It doesn’t take an expert to realize that many people spend hours on their smartphones each day. No matter where you go there are people staring at their phones. At traffic lights, waiting rooms, baseball games, restaurants, and hiking paths, you’ll find people on their smartphones. Some people can’t handle it when they forget their smart phone at home and others frequently check their phones in the middle of the night. Whether texting or Facebook scrolling, our phones certainly have our attention! Sadly, most of the time we spend on our phones ends up being mindless distraction.
Of course, smartphones aren’t of the devil or a mark of the beast. They can be a good and helpful tool. However, they can also start to dominate our lives, hurt relationships, and cause our attention spans to shrink, among other things. Studies have shown that excessive phone use can lead to ADHD, OCD, depression, anxiety, and other negative behaviors. In fact, excessive phone use is even more damaging to teens who already show signs of ADD/ADHD and OCD. I agree with the experts who say smartphones (when used excessively) are more harmful to kids than helpful.
A few months ago I was annoyed with myself for using my iPhone too much, so I got this book: How to Break up with Your Phone by Catherine Price. I’ve mentioned it here before, and even though it isn’t a Christian book, it’s a good common grace resource on not letting technology overtake our lives.
Below are a few tips Price gives to break phone-dependence and addiction. She does give more tips and also spends some time discussing each tip, so I recommend getting the book for more info.
Download a tracking app. Often just seeing how much time you actually spend on your phone each day is motivation to use it less.
Start paying attention. Try to notice when you use your phone, how it makes you feel before, during, and after, and how often you want to check your phone. Again, even realizing these things is a good step in breaking the addiction.
Delete social media apps. Social media are like junk food for the brain: “bingeing on it makes us feel bad, and yet once we start consuming it, it’s really hard to stop. So let’s take control of it.” Many people have said simply deleting social media apps was a major step in breaking the addiction.
Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock. Buy an alarm clock. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, it almost guarantees you’ll start each day staring at your phone.
Shut notifications off. “Notifications use our brains’ natural ability to associate cues with rewards… to get us to compulsively check our phones. Every time you hear or see a notification, you know there’s something new and unpredictable waiting for you – two qualities that we are hardwired to crave.”
Get rid of “slot machine” apps. Granted, the phone itself is sort of like an addictive slot machine, but some apps are worse than others. “These are the apps that don’t improve your life and [they] steal your attention.” For example, slot machine apps include social media, dating, shopping, and game apps. “Slot machine apps suck. Delete them.”
Change where you charge your smart phone. If you charge your phone next to your bed or another spot in the house where you spend a lot of time, it will make you want to look at it more. Find an out-of-the-way spot to charge it so you don’t always see it right by you.
Again, Price gives more helpful tips and more comments on these tips. I very much recommend this book, How to Break up with Your Phone, if you want to minimize your smart phone use, get your attention span back, stop wasting precious time on mindless distractions, and free yourself from a possible addiction.
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