Are you addicted to your smartphone? If so, you’re not alone. Studies show that we use our iPhones excessively–an average of 80-150 times a day. The millennials surveyed said that their devices have created better work-life balance, contributing to better communication and relationship-building.
Research shows that as we grow more dependent on technology, our intellect, attention levels and social skills weaken. In fact, with just the mere presence of our smartphones, our ability to focus on a task and solve problems decreases.
We are living in an era of technology obsession and smartphone addiction. I hear it all the time: “I can’t go anywhere without my phone” or “I feel anxious when I’m not able to check email” or “If I’m not on my social feeds, I feel like I’m missing out.”
Luckily, there is hope. If you’re trying to improve your relationship with your device, here some ways that you can take back control of your time and attention.
1. Check Your Usage
Addicted to your smartphone? There’s an app for that.
Ironically, you can try to stave off addicting smartphone apps with another app. While not ideal, there are apps like SPACE and Moment helps you find your personal phone-life balance by monitoring your smartphone use and setting limits.
2. Stop Scrolling
Many of the most popular mobile apps (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and more) are designed with infinite scrolling functions, where you can consume an endless feed of information.
However, infinite scrolling can make it easy to lose track of time. Nothing holds our attention better than the unknown. A bottomless stream of social media posts motivates you to continue the search for the element of surprise; seeking things that captivate, engross, and entertain. Our brains can’t get enough of trying to predict what’s next and, like a loose slot machine, the infinite scroll gives you fast access to what psychologists call variable rewards.
Although social media apps can be difficult to live without, try deleting the apps that have infinite scroll and see how much time you can earn back.
3. Protect Your Time
Being always available to your friends and co-workers does come with its own caveats as you never really get time for yourself or get other work done. You need to respect and protect your own time so reduce your smartphone usage over a period of time.
4. Calm Your Mind
There is a very real euphoric sensationwhen you get a social media notification, such as when someone likes a photo you’ve posted to Instagram or Facebook. These moments trigger a dopamine release in the brain, a chemical that creates feelings of pleasure. It’s an essential part of our brain’s rewards system, which is why it’s also gets blamed for addiction.
Meditation, yoga, exercise, and other mindfulness activities have been proven to create a natural release of dopamine, reducing the craving from the dopamine rushes your phone provides.
5. Do Other Things You Enjoy
If you love to read, play board games, watch movies, or go out on a stroll with your dog, you need to start doing more of that rather than spending time on your phone. No matter which activity you choose, the presence of a smartphone will always ruin the experience.This is a great way to reduce the time spent on your smartphone while doing something else as you won’t be checking your smartphone each time you get a notification.
6. Turn Your Phone Into Grayscale
Research shows that colors are attached to emotions and priorities–especially that little red notification bubble that has controlled us for so long. Turning your phone to black and white can reduce the urge you have to view new notifications that pull you into the infinite scrolling vortex.
7. Turn Off Notifications From Unnecessary Apps
Unless you need to communicate with friends, family or co-workers in real-time, you should turn off notifications from unnecessary applications. Every app wants to get your attention and it often does that by sending you notifications repeatedly. You might even consider deleting social media apps from your phone altogether and only accessing them via a computer. The constant friend and family updates can wait until later.
8. Use the Physical Versions of Useful Apps
Yes, having everything in your pocket is convenient. Your smartphone has almost completely diminished the need for calculators, calendars, cameras, notebooks, alarm clocks and so many other things.
We’ve all been there before: you unlock your phone to check the weather or make a note and the next thing you know you’ve been in your Instagram feed for 20 minutes. To avoid this problem, try replacing as many digital tools with physical ones.
The key is to avoid unlocking your phone as much as possible to prevent getting unintentionally pulled into the digital vortex.