The average person checks their phone 150 times a day.
It’s become so second-nature to us that we don’t even realize how much time we’re wasting on our phones.
This addiction can have a major impact on your life. You might find that you’re not able to focus on anything else, you’re more likely to be distracted, and your productivity is affected.
This has huge consequences for our work, relationships, and health. It can also cause anxiety and depression. So what can you do about it?
Here are some ways you can break your mobile addiction so you can be more present in your life.
Understanding Smartphone Addiction
Smartphones are an amazing invention, allowing us to reach friends, families, and colleagues at any time. When used in moderation, it’s quite useful, but the addiction to smartphones is too strong for many of us.
This article will help you get started on your path to recovery.
You’re probably not alone in this one. In fact, studies show that the average person checks their phone 150 times a day.
This is time you could be spending more productively, reading a book, checking the weather, watching a movie, or learning a language. Use this time to play a game, watch a YouTube video, or spend time with your loved ones. This will help you to control your own usage and reduce your distractions.
The World Health Organization recently added “digital disorder” to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the diagnostic tool used by mental health professionals around the world. It’s one of the first additions to the DSM since 2001.
If your mental health professional thinks you may have a digital disorder, they will likely ask you to self-report how much you check your phone every day and how distracted you become during the day.
The DSM defines digital addiction as “a pattern of behavior in which a person’s online activities take precedence over their in-person social interactions and other activities that they consider to be more important”.
Phone usage has always been a problem for many people, but now there’s evidence that these distractions are causing a health epidemic.
People can suffer a wide range of problems from digital distraction, including cognitive errors (such as trouble following a conversation or forgetting where they’re supposed to be going), concentration problems, sleep disruptions, and impaired judgement and decision making.
These problems can affect a person’s personal and professional life. More than two-thirds of U.S. teenagers report spending more than two hours a day on their phones and many have experienced serious issues with digital addiction.
For example, one study found that teens who spent five or more hours on their phones every day were 75% more likely to develop symptoms of depression.
There is little doubt that most of us are addicted to our phones and other devices. You can’t talk or text on them for more than a few minutes without getting fidgety and impatient. Smartphones have become this great escape from the real world, and that’s bad for us.
Yet when we admit it, it’s hard to believe that we really are addicted to our phones. The truth is we’re just so used to them being there that we don’t notice how much time we spend on them. We just know that we like having access to our favorite things whenever we want.
When someone complains about the way they are spending their time on their phone, they often point to all the bad things that come from it. There are two common complaints people have: they complain that their phones are keeping them from spending time with their families, or they feel they’re losing touch with reality.
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There’s a reason behind this: using your phone makes you less attentive, less present, and less involved in your real life. It’s designed to be a communication tool, not a way to have a meaningful relationship.
And it’s also designed to get you to buy stuff. So here’s the important thing to understand: when you use your phone, you’re not doing something entirely new. You’re taking the same thing that you did before you had a smartphone, and you’re making it feel new.
Is mobile addiction real?
It’s hard to know for sure if there’s such a thing as mobile addiction, but there are enough reports to make it worthwhile looking into. “Technology addiction” describes excessive smartphone use.
This includes excessive phone and computer use, compulsive checking of social media and online accounts, internet shopping, or other behaviours in which excessive time is spent interacting with, organizing and manipulating digital technology.
I think there is something that makes us addicted to smartphones, but I don’t think it’s simply having them all the time, or even using them too often.
Signs of digital addiction
- You don’t realize how much time you’ve spent on your phone and wonder why you’re so restless.
- You have trouble staying focused and your mood suffers.
- You sometimes even feel suicidal.
- You wake up in the middle of the night and just can’t go back to sleep because of your mind racing.
- You get irritable when you’re on your phone and become preoccupied by it.
- You feel irritable when you’re on your phone and can’t focus on other things.
- You can’t live without your phone.
- You feel disoriented when you don’t have your phone with you.
- You start to live your life through your phone.
- You feel guilty if you go on your phone for more than half an hour.
- You get really upset if you can’t look at your phone. You get angry and hostile when you can’t look at your phone.
Check your phone habits
First, make a list of your phone habits and break them down. It will help you see how much time you’re wasting, and motivate you to change.
For example, if you constantly check your phone at the dinner table, don’t be surprised if you have a craving for chocolate afterwards. That’s the old version of your habit.
Do you always look at Instagram when you’re with your family? Try to avoid checking your phone when you’re with family or loved ones, so you can really focus on your conversations. The next step is to come up with different ways to lessen your smartphone use.
Understand the pros and cons of using smartphones
The Benefits of Smartphones
One thing to keep in mind is that smartphones are making your life better.
A 2015 Pew Research Center survey found that 74% of U.S. adults now own a smartphone. You might not like what they do to your family life, but you need to accept that your life is better because of your smartphone.
Take a moment to think about what all these benefits mean for you.
First of all, smartphone users spend more time than non-smartphone users doing something that they enjoy. Everyone can spend more time with their family, talking to them, spending time doing their favorite activities, and more.
This is more time they can spend doing the things they enjoy, which also means that smartphone users tend to spend more time doing what they enjoy and less time on things that don’t make them happy.
So, what do you do to give your phone a purpose again? Here are five ideas:
- At-a-glance: Most people keep their phone on their desk and stare at it all day. Try to find a way to carry it around with you so you’re always seeing it and checking it.
- Control: Turn off all the apps you don’t use. You may need to disable them completely, or only run them when you want to.
- Do No Distractions: Technology has always been about distractions. Use them only for the things you need to get done.
- Go Mobile: If you have the option of using a smartwatch to keep you more connected, do so. If not, find an easy, and free, way to stay connected to the people you care about.
- Connect the Dots: Focus on those things that are important to you.
The Negative Aspects of Smartphones
So what are the downsides to a smartphone? The two most important things to realize about the smartphone is that it is designed to make you buy things. It was made by someone who wanted you to spend more time on their phones.
There is absolutely no way to opt out of the ads being targeted at you, and even if you were to disable all of the ads you’d still have targeted ads being served to you.
The phone is, in many ways, designed to make you spend money on it. Another big downside is that you get a huge chunk of your day taken up by it.
Even if you had the foresight to put it away for an hour while you’re at work, you’re still spending more than two hours a day on your phone.
If you’ve ever wished you could get away from your phone, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re not even the only one. People have been claiming to feel this way for some time, and it’s been going strong since the first smartphone came out.
However, it’s a fallacy to think that leaving your phone at home will magically solve all your problems. In fact, it probably won’t. But if you consider all of the reasons you have for leaving your phone at home, you can start to see the many benefits of leaving it behind.
The Technology That Was Supposed to Help Us Connect More
Think about the way you would have interacted with someone before the smartphone era. You might have called them on the phone. You might have mailed them a card. You might have put up an ad in the paper, or sent a letter.
When you email someone now, the technology has gotten much more sophisticated, but the technology that’s being used is just as old.
The average human being is walking around with dozens of thousands of bytes of personally identifiable information on them at any given moment. At the same time, smartphones are allowing us to put this information in our pockets.
What is happening when you are on your phone?
Do you have trouble focusing?
When do you feel restless or anxious?
Do you have to multitask in order to pay attention to your present situation?
Do you get bored easily?
Do you find it hard to shut off your phone when you are done with it?
Are you constantly looking at the time, trying to cut down on your phone use?
When you recognize that you are addicted to your phone, you’ll realize that the good stuff is all around you, and that you should just focus on that instead.
A study found that internet use is increasing across the board. Almost half of teenagers in the US admit to spending most of their time online. But new research suggests that increased screen time is putting kids in danger.
A recent University of California study revealed that excessive phone use, like texting and Instagram browsing, can be linked to learning disorders, anxiety, depression, and social anxiety in kids. We also have phones for more than just communication, like reminders to take medicine or order pizza. The more you use a device, the more anxious you become.
How to control your phone use
For most people, the temptation to check their phone constantly will always be there. The solution is to make a rule that you have to leave your phone in another room so you won’t be tempted to look at it.
Make sure that you take some time during the day to do something you enjoy — exercise, meditate, hang out with friends, read a book — so you have something good to do that doesn’t involve your phone.
You can still use it to play games, take photos, or even browse the web. But all of that will be at least somewhat supervised.
If you can’t stop yourself from checking your phone, the best way to limit your time on it is to install a dedicated app that blocks your access to certain websites and content, or puts you on a time limit for how long you can use it.
Going cold turkey “The best way to break your mobile addiction is to go cold turkey,” says Donna Kremer, author of Try Not to Swipe (and Other Mobile Habits You Should Avoid Like the Plague).
This is the approach that John Jantsch follows, where he never touches his phone at all. After experiencing firsthand the relationship between his own phone usage and his mental health, he decided to do whatever he could to reduce his digital exposure, which included going completely smartphone free for a couple months.
The average American checked their phone 300 times a day in 2016, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. To put that into perspective, it’s about 20 times more than the number of times a person looked in a mirror in the same time period.
In other words, the average person checks their phone over 4 times a minute and doesn’t even realize they’re doing it. So why does this happen?
Because smartphones are designed to keep us hooked. When your phone is near, you feel compelled to check it because you can’t get it fast enough. This results in that massive amount of time we spend on our phones.
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The dangers of mobile dependence
Because you’re constantly attached to your phone, you’ll find it difficult to unplug from it. The benefits of connected devices, apps, and the internet are tremendous, but you need to be mindful of the dangers that can come from them, as well as the benefits that they can offer.
For example, while some benefits of mobile phones are positive- free calls, text messages, email- others are downright harmful.
For example, your phone could be a distraction during stressful events, or it could prevent you from doing things you want to do.
For example, one of my clients was struggling with his family’s aging dog. He didn’t want to miss a moment of her last days. However, he was constantly checking his phone for news updates. That made it too hard to attend to his loved one when it was time.
Time is the most precious commodity we have. Allocating it to productive pursuits will allow you to live a life where you feel most happy and satisfied with your life.
By taking a look at our digital lives, we can see that the Internet is full of information and it’s vital to stay aware of our actions. These habits can be changed by us alone, but these tips will give us a start. Make use of these hacks and you can save yourself from the worst of your smartphone addictions.