By Jessica Domel

At home. In the office. On the road. Our phones go with us everywhere. But how much is too much?

This past weekend, my dad and I were seated next to a young couple at a local restaurant. While my dad and I exchanged stories and discussed life in general, I noticed that the couple next to us hadn’t said much to one another. They were emersed in their phones to the point that they didn’t realize the waitress had asked for their order at one point.

Eventually, their food came. They watched their phones. The check came. They paid the bill, and they walked out–still focused on their screens.

I was fascinated.

While I use my phone a lot–and I do mean A LOT–I’ve learned that it’s best to put it down to concentrate on the person I’m with. My dad taught me that.

After all, what good is a digital connection between people when we’re letting real connections die?

After two weeks on the farm over the holidays, I realized I use my phone very infrequently when I’m not at work. I find that peaceful. Every now and then a friend or family member would call or text me, but I found reprieve in unplugging from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

It was calming. I felt more connected with my tech-savvy nieces who were also denied my phone to play on. I heard more of my dad’s silly stories.

I listened.

How often do we actually sit back and listen nowadays? Or are we always looking and listening for that next thing to post online?

So for now at least, I’ve resolved that my kitchen table (and others’) is a phone and iPad free zone. Technology may be king, but connection still reigns.