How many times do you check your phone a day? Is it a modest amount? If you’re like most in the modern world, it’s not. Many of us are addicted to our phones and don’t even realize it. We’re never just checking the time, are we? We’re thirsting for notifications, eagerly checking our phones for an excuse to unlock them and use them. We’re full-blown addicts.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning? If you answered, “check my phone”, you’re one of us. We’re the smartphone addicts.
It’s easy to understand why we’d be so attached to our iPhones. They offer us instant connections to friends, family, acquaintances, and interesting strangers across the world. We have constant news at our finger tips, immediate access to easy entertainment. They also provide us a safety. We feel more secure when we have our phones on our person.
Recent reports by communications company Ofcom state that the average person spends over 20 hours online per week. The number has more than doubled in the past decade. At this rate, the internet is becoming our entire life. This increase is likely due to the mobile access that our smartphones provide. The internet comes with us wherever we go. It is our constant companion.
Being connected at the palm to our phones isn’t necessary. It’s sucking us in to a synthetic world while life passes by in our peripheral vision. What Instagram photo is that important that it’s worth taking valuable moments of our time from us? What tweet thread matters so much that we’ll almost walk in front of a moving car trying to read it? We can live without these things, just as we have before.
We need to learn to detach. We need to learn to be able to do the simplest tasks like going to sleep or going to the bathroom without needing to take our phones with us. We’re zombies to the instant-gratification that our constant stream of information and entertainment provide us. What do we gain from that?
The answer is nothing. Nothing of true value, anyway. We’re sacrificing valuable time with our loved ones, quality alone time, and productivity time. We’re throwing it away at no value and at an exponential cost. We must change our ways.
How do we stop? For many of us, the thought is inconceivable. We must force ourselves to see the incentive and make changes or we’ll never change. The truth is: you can fall asleep with a book if you try. You can go out on a walk with your dog without your phone in hand. You can enjoy the world without needing to Instagram it. I promise you, these things are possible.
The biggest tip for phone addicts is to try going cold turkey. Try going an entire weekend without using internet-connected devices. It’s easier if you do it with a friend so you can distract each other, and take notice of how different interactions are without having them through the barrier of a device. Going cold turkey for a short period of time will help you control your phone, instead of letting your phone control you. If a weekend is too long, try a holiday. Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, whatever day you want that’s coming up. Give it a try. I promise that you’ll survive.
It’s also a good habit health-wise (and addiction-wise) to nix the use of digital devices for at least an hour before bed time. That hour without the light of the screen will help you fall asleep easier, and will train you to be doing nothing without needing to occupy your time with technology. Read a book, rest your eyes, do what you will – just don’t use your tech. You’ll sleep better and take massive strides towards curbing your addiction.
For the record, yes. Phone addiction is a real addiction, as is any tech addiction. It’s as real as any other addiction and we’re training our brains to be dependent on our tech. It’s damaging our lives in ways we don’t even see. Our relationships, our ability to understand people, our decision-making skills… they’re all at risk because of our phones.
The choice is yours. Will you control your tech, or will you let it control you?