A study by the University of Derby found that 13% of people are addicted to their smartphones. You might be one of them.
Have you ever felt your phone buzzing in your pocket to phantom notifications? Ever missed a special moment because you were too busy waiting to Instagram it? You may even have had whole texted conversations with your other half from across the living room.
Admit it: your phone is the most important thing in your life.
And why is that?
The real reason you’re addicted to your phone
The study from the University of Derby found that, on average, people spend 3.6 hours per day on their phones.
Much of our phone-time is spent on social media sites, playing games like Candy Crush Saga, chatting, and trawling timelines for news about our friends, sort-of-friends, and celebrities.
But why are our phones so addictive?
It’s all to do with how we’ve conditioned ourselves. Let’s take a look at some classic psychology.
All the way back in the early 20th Century, a Russian scientist called Pavlov tested the link between expectation and conditioning.
Whenever Pavlov fed his dogs, he would ring a bell. Soon, the dogs would salivate when they heard the bell. They’d been trained (or conditioned) to relate the bell to food.
Humans are a little like that: we relate our phones to positive things like communication, friendship, and fun ways to pass the time when we’re bored. Our phones ping with a notification and our first instinct is to see what it is.
In a nutshell: we’ve given our phones the capacity to make us happy. Who needs a real relationship when we have our phones to keep us warm at night?
If you’re a bit too dependent on your phone, it may be time to stage a breakup. Let’s take a look at 13 ways you can break up with your phone.
We’re sorry, phone. It’s not you, it’s us.
1. Use apps to track and understand your relationship
We know. Seems contradictory. So while a complete separation from your phone seems unlikely, you can wean yourself away from your phone by being smart about how you use it.
You can use an app like Checky to track how many times you check your phone. Don’t be surprised if your number is far higher than expected. Whatever your number is, you can work on lowering it. Focus on spending concentrated bursts of time doing one thing, instead of multi-tasking little jobs.
Another useful app is Moment. It will track how long you spend doing certain things on your phone e.g. how much time you spend texting or how long you were on Facebook.
Once you’ve tracked yourself, you can set restrictions to help minimise how much time you’re spending on each thing.
2. Spend less time together doing insignificant things
We all use our phones for different reasons but it comes down to a few basics:
· Something to do while bored.
· Reassurance e.g. Google Maps if we need directions.
The goal is to waste less time on pointless communication, games, and apps. Once you’ve followed point one and figured out how your time is spent, you can start cutting back on the ‘essentials’.
Start by replacing time-wasting activities with something productive. Instead of Instagram-ing a photo of your food in a café, try learning to cook that same dish at home.
3. Spend more time with your family
Meals and family-time are the big ones, but try and work in some extra time too. Start by setting aside an extra half hour to play with your kids instead of browsing your favourite site.
4. Don’t pay attention to its cries for attention
And by that we mean turn off your notifications.
WHAT? But then how will you know if that important email arrived? Notifications are a distraction and a limit to our productivity. As soon as a new notification arrives, we pick our phones up to see what it is. The simplest way to combat that is to turn notifications off for a couple of hours.
5. Kick your phone out of bed
Do you sleep with your phone beside your pillow? A lot of people do. More than 90% of 18-29 year olds sleep with their phone beside or under their pillow.
Using your phone as your alarm makes sense, but it also makes it the first thing you check when you wake up. You hit snooze or turn your alarm off and next thing you know you’re scrolling Facebook even though it’s 7am and tumbleweed is rolling through your timeline.
Which leads us on to:
6. Send your phone packing to the spare room
Leave it to sleep in the kitchen or plugged in to charge in the spare room. Studies show that the more time you spend looking at your phone before you go to the bed, the worse your sleep will be. Engaging with your phone means your brain isn’t getting enough time to disengage before you hit the hay.
Try reading a book or relaxing instead. Gentle yoga is always good too.
As well as spending less time with your phone, you’ll also get have a better sleep. Win-win!
7. Ignore your phone while you’re socialising
It goes without saying that technology has changed how we socialise. We’re hyper-connected. While ravens are fine in Westeros, the days of snail mail and carrier pigeon are far behind us.
We are so connected that we’ve developed a habit of socialising while we socialise. While you might think you can pay attention, think again. A tourist in Australia was so busy Facebooking that she walked right off the edge of a pier.
When meeting friends, focus on one conversation. Turn your phone off or put it on silent.
8. Downgrade the amount of time you spend on social media sites
Social media is the big time-waster. While we already touched on spending less time on your social apps, it’s worth stressing the importance of this point. If you’re really brave, you can delete your social media apps. You’ll either re-download them, or you’ll accomplish your goal and use your phone less.
9. Prioritise your life
Draw up a to-do list and implement a system: you’re only allowed to use your phone when you get enough productive things done. As you tick things off, you earn a certain amount of screen-time with your phone. The amount of time you award yourself is up to you and your addiction.
10. Spend more time engaged in real-life activities
While watching a film on your phone might be satisfying, it won’t compare to the experience of watching it on the big screen with a friend and a box of buttery popcorn.
11. Spend your meals apart
Over 75 million people use Instagram daily, many of them logging in just to share photos of their food. Stop the snapping and focus on enjoying your food instead. Life is brighter without a filter!
Up to 32% of social media users text during mealtime. If you’re part of that 32%, putting your phone away at dinner is an easy way to disengage from your mobile.
12. Hide your phone away during the work day
If you have a work phone, hide away your personal phone. Put it in your desk and leave it there.
If it’s not within reach or you can’t see it, you’re less likely to think about it. Though absence does make the heart grow fonder.
13. Prepare for the nervous itch you just might develop
While you might think this point is a joke, science backs it up. In another university survey on phone addiction, scientists got 40 participants to temporarily give up their iPhones and complete two word searches.
In the first round of testing, participants could keep their phone. In the second round, participants completed another word search, but this time they had to hand their phones over to researchers.
The researchers rang the participants’ phones but asked them to ignore the call and complete the word search. The participants struggled in the second round, finding less words and also reporting feelings of anxiety. Many even had higher heart rates and blood pressure.
The simple truth is that our phones are addictive.
Don’t be surprised if you try to give up your phone and find that the whole experience is making you feel anxious or itchy!
If you spend your time more wisely, you’ll find that you’ll get more done during the day and you’ll feel better about your level of productivity. If you’ve tried and failed to spend less time with your phone, you can always lock it up in phone jail and break up with if for good.