Digital technologies such as smartphones, tablets, and computers can be used as productive tools, but compulsively using these devices can impair your ability to accomplish your work or assignments or to forge a stronger bond with your relationships, said Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. of Help Guide, a reader’s trusted guide to mental health and wellness.
If you are spending more time on social media, playing games, or checking emails or apps, then it is time to reassess how you use these technologies. Colloquially known as “nomophobia” or the fear of being without a cell phone, smartphone addiction is exacerbated by an internet overuse problem or internet addiction disorder. It’s rarely the device that creates the compulsion, but rather the apps and virtual worlds it connects us to.
Survey Illuminates Respondents’ Mobile Phone Behavior
Reviews.org, a reviews platform dedicated to home services and products, conducted an anonymous survey involving 500 men and women over 18 years old with regard to their sentiments on smartphone use, their personal cell phone habits, and how much they value spending time with their phones compared to time spent with other activities, reported Tyler Abbott.
65.7% said they sleep with their phone at night. 32% said they spend more time on their phones than they do with their partners. The survey also revealed how people are incredibly attached to their phones, with 87.8% saying they feel uneasy leaving their phone at home and 65.6% saying that they check their phones 160 times a day. 79.5% said they use their phones as an alarm clock, 73.4% used their phone in the restroom, 64.2% have texted someone that’s in the same room as them, and 57.4% have used their phones during dates.
The survey also showed that 75.4% of respondents consider themselves addicted to their phones. 60.6% have upgraded their phones in the last 12 months and 55.4% reported using or looking at their phone while driving. When asked how often they use or look at their phone while driving, 48% said “sometimes,” 35.2% said “never,” 7.4% answered “always,” and 9.4% stated “I don’t drive.”
When asked if they considered themselves addicted to their phone, 56.4% said “somewhat,” 24.6% said “not at all,” and 19% answered “very.” Alarmingly, 17.3% of parents admitted that they spend more time on their phones than with their kids. Interestingly, 36% of respondents said they would be willing to go without their phone for “one week or less” if they could erase all of their debt. 45% said the private information on their phones was worth less than $500 to them and 56% said they spend more than three hours on their phone daily.
What Does Smartphone Addiction Encompass?
it can encompass different impulse-control problems like virtual relationships, in which one’s addiction to social networking, dating apps, texting/chatting can extend to the point where virtual friends and relationships become more important than those in real life.
Moreover, compulsive web surfing, watching videos, checking news feeds, or playing games can impair productivity at work or school. These activities can also leave you isolated for a period of time. Excessive internet surfing or usage of smartphone apps can cause you to neglect your real life relationships, hobbies, and social pursuits. Online compulsions like gambling or online shopping can result in financial and job-related problems.
How to Control Excessive Smartphone Usage
1. Know How Much Time You Spend On Your Phone
Note how you are currently using your phone and it makes you feel, stated Jillian D’ Onfro of CNBC, a business and real-time financial market coverage news website. Catherine Price, author of “How to Break Up With Your Phone,” suggested, “Every time you reach for your phone, ask yourself, ‘What for? Why now? What else?’”
Ask yourself what do you want to do on your phone? Is it responding to a message, reading the news, going on social media, or using a productivity tool? After that, you can ask yourself why you are doing it. Is it because you are bored or need to complete a task? Recognize the triggers that prompt you to reach for your phone. For instance, if you use your phone to soothe rocky moods, you have to find healthier and more effective ways to cope with those moods. One example is practicing relaxation techniques.
Price said that your phone can serve as “digital drugs” to seek pleasure and avoid discomfort and pain. She recommended creating a list of what you like and what you don’t like when using your phone. David Greenfield, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, suggested engaging in a digital detox. For example, you can try not to check social media for one day. Then, compare your typical experiences and emotions with those you felt when engaged in a digital detox.
2. Set Specific Goals and Use Positive Framing
You need to think of concrete ways to think about and measure your success, so it’s not enough to control your smartphone usage with “I will use my phone less.” “Set a positive intention, so it doesn’t feel like a restriction. Set a positive intention, so it doesn’t feel like a restriction,” Price stated. For example, you can spend 10 minutes on Instagram a day so that you have more time to practice using a musical instrument or engage in any activity.
3. Set Up User Experience Roadblocks
There are a variety of simple actions you can take to help you achieve your goals. To establish an appropriate physical and digital environment, you can turn off as many push notifications as possible. Leave the most important push notifications on such as those of ride-sharing apps. You can also choose to log out of an app (or delete it) as soon as you have finished a session, so you can only access it via desktop or your phone’s browser. If you want, you can turn your phone to grayscale to make your phone less appealing.
4. Go Easy On Yourself
Your smartphone usage can be difficult to change. “Understand that your attention is fragile and you need to really work to increase that attention. It takes practice,” explained Larry Rosen, psychology professor and author of The Distracted Mind. While most people can manage their unhealthy smartphone behavior, excessive smartphone usage is a growing problem that requires professional help.
We use our phones for work, school, and leisure, making it harder for us to disconnect from cyberspace. A digital detox can help a person feel more refreshed or less stressed. There are other measures that can control one’s smartphone usage. However, it may also require the help of a professional if it cannot be controlled.