When you hear the term 4G you might think it’s in relation to the speed of a phone, but that’s the exact opposite of what I mean when I say I’m a member of the 4Gs. As a member of the 4Gs, I’m a dedicated walker. Four generations of active family members who realize that walking is key to a healthy lifestyle. There’s my 85-year-old mother, 63-year-old me, my 33-year-old daughter, and Em, my four-year-old granddaughter. We were dubbed the 4Gs by my sister, Sue Parks, who is the founder and CEO of WalkStyles. Our mission is to keep on walking and get others to do the same.
That’s all sweet and good, but there’s a dark side to my story. I’m battling an addiction to a very powerful force: Words with Friends. This is how bad it can be: I wake up in the middle of the night and immediately reach for my iPhone,fire up the WWF app, and jump right into a game. I can entertain myself for hours making words and racking up points. Delayed flights, long stints in the dentist’s waiting room, and a slow-moving line at the grocery store … not a problem. I have Words and Friends (some real, some random) to keep me company. I rationalize it as brain exercise while studying a small screen and dragging letters to utilize a triple-word square. In spite of this addiction, I do get in my 10,000 daily steps, sometimes with my head bent over the phone.
I definitely needed to overcome my obsession, and my grandaughter helped me do it. She and I had strolled to the neighborhood park. While Em amused herself on the playground equipment, I sat down on a bench, pulled out my phone and, with one eye on her and one eye on the teeny game board, I started a game with my fiercest competitor. After a bit, Em grew bored playing alone, sat down next to me and offered to help.While Em worked on her assignment, I looked around the park: It was green and peaceful and pretty. On the lake, ducks were congregating and a few boys were launching a small sailboat. Em brought me back to the game by announcing, “Grandma, I’m done.” Looking at the screen, I noted that indeed it was no longer my turn and that the best letter hadn’t been played. Deep breath. Then another, deeper, breath. “Wow! Great job, Em!” I choked out after several seconds had passed. “Let’s put the phone away for now and walk around the lake. Let’s see what’s going on over there with that sailboat.” Without missing a beat, she was off and running.
This is what I discovered on our walk that day: Sometimes I pay too much attention to a device and not enough to the world and the people around me. WWF took on a much healthier meaning: Walking With Family. We were thrilled to discover the Together Counts ProgramTM also shares this belief by promoting family meals and activities. Together we can put down our digital devices for a period of time and get outside instead.
How do you turn digital distractions into a rewarding family activity for the entire family?
According to her mother, Nancy started walking at the age of 13 months. She has enjoyed this activity ever since and has worn out hundreds of shoes. A retired teacher and active grandmother, Nancy added “blogger” to resume several months ago with her sister’s encouragement.