By Lili Vianello May 28, 2010

Smart phones have become wildly popular since Apple’s iPhone captured the hearts of people of all ages. My husband has an iPhone, my best friend has an iPhone, and one of my employees came to work last week and announced that her 80-year-old grandmother has an iPhone. Even I used to have a smart phone, back when they were just for the busy business professional. And guess what — I hated it.

When you have a smart phone, you are always connected. You receive your e-mails on the spot, wherever you are, whenever you want. Seems nice, right? Except I don’t want to be that connected. I eventually let my smart phone go in favor of a plain old cell phone. It doesn’t get e-mails, and it doesn’t surf the net, but if I need to call someone, it gets the job done. And if someone needs to call me, it does that, too. But I don’t even like that very much, so I rarely give out the phone number.

One of my husband’s favorite new shows is The Marriage Ref on NBC. It offers a voyeuristic view into other people’s marriage arguments. In many ways, it’s kind of sick, but I have to admit that we enjoy watching it. On a recent episode, one of the conflicts was over a wife’s cell phone habits. Her Blackberry was always abuzz with text messages and e-mails. It had become such an issue that her husband was feeling neglected. I’d feel neglected, too, if my spouse answered texts and e-mails during dinner or while taking a drive. He used to be much worse about doing this but has really made an effort to focus on me instead of his phone. However, the woman on the TV show was even texting during intimate moments with her husband! What could she possibly be saying?

Although having a smart phone can be a great convenience, it’s important to remember to disconnect every once in a while. Many health experts warn against technology addiction for the adverse effects it can have on your health, such as headaches, eye strain, stress, insomnia and relationship issues. Aside from all of that, I would suggest disconnecting simply for sanity’s sake. Your brain just needs a break!

Let’s work on adopting some basic ground rules. Try shutting down your phone at a few key times:

While in bed. Whether you are relaxing with your family, being intimate with your partner or actually sleeping, keep the phone out of the bedroom. Your phone won’t be lonely, and your relationship with your loved ones will be better for it. You might even get a better night’s sleep because you won’t wake up every time your phone rumbles to tell you you’ve received some spam e-mail at 4 a.m.

While on vacation. An astounding 83 percent of people check their e-mail every day on vacation, according to a study by AOL. I understand the relief that can come from knowing there are no fires at the office that you need to put out, but remember the No. 1 reason you went on vacation: to get away and relax. So don’t obsess over checking your e-mails, and don’t check so often that you end up working away your much-deserved time away from the office.

While out with friends. For me, there is nothing more obnoxious than being out with a friend who talks on his or her phone while we are together. I even had someone cut me off mid-sentence so she could answer the call of another friend. She then proceeded to have a 10-minute chat about her niece’s baby shower while I sat awkwardly across the table and waited for our food. In addition to making your friends feel awkward, didn’t you get together with them so you could catch up and nurture your friendships? Make plans later to hook up with the friend on the phone.

While in a meeting. This seems obvious to some, but I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen go into a meeting wearing a Bluetooth earpiece. In my opinion, it’s just not polite, and it takes your attention away from the meeting at hand. If you are interviewing for a job or trying to sell me something, I can almost guarantee I won’t be impressed by your Bluetooth, and I probably won’t be pleased to hear your phone ringing in your pocket either.

If you think your technology dependence is a true addiction, consider cutting yourself off one step at a time. Leave your phone at home one day a week, cut the number of times you check your e-mail in half, or just make sure you aren’t committing one of the faux pas I’ve mentioned above. If you need a little more help, visit Dr. Oz’s website. He has a four-week plan for cutting technology use to a healthy level.