Last week my phone broke down while I was camping. The first question on my mind was whether my phone was backed up or not. My second question was… HOW DO I GET HOME FROM HERE?
I ended up going a week without a phone. Within those seven days I realized just how addicted to my phone I really was. At random times throughout the day I would find myself reaching into my pocket only to discover that it was empty. My GPS, camera, alarm, calculator, music, connection to friends, the internet and more was gone.
I literally had to go out and buy an alarm clock just to get up for work.
Although I felt anxious for the first day or two, by the seventh day I was almost reluctant to purchase a new phone. Rather than constantly looking down at my phone, I was spending more time looking up at this beautiful world.
During this time I had a major realization that I utilize my phone as an escape from my own thoughts. Phones may make you feel as though you are connected to the world, but it disconnects you from yourself.
When you plug into your phone, you unplug from your thoughts, your feelings and what exactly is going on within you.
Taking time away from my phone forced me to listen to myself. It forced me to recognize my thought patterns and emotions rather than picking up my phone to distract me from them.
Cell phones can be beautiful tools when used in moderation but unfortunately, cell phone addiction is on the rise.
Review the list below. Do you demonstrate any of these symptoms? 7
If you identified with any of the above symptoms, take some time to think about it. Use this article as a source of information about the effects of cell phones and steps that you can take to limit your use of them.
It’s not just what you’re looking at, but how you’re looking at it. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy has discovered that posture influences your hormones. Looking down at your phone places you in a position that increases your feelings of mental and physical weakness and prevents you from feeling powerful. By hunching over your phone, you will be less likely to assert yourself and display confidence.8
Do you ever find yourself nodding off during the day at inconvenient times? Your phone use may be to blame. According to research, using your cell phone right before bed has significant negative effects on both the quality and duration of sleep.4 When you scroll through social media or answer text messages you are mentally and emotionally stimulated. You will feel awake regardless of the time. Even the light from your phone alone can suppress your sleep and delay your sleep/wake patterns. All in all, your nighttime cell phone use is detrimental to your sleep.
Attention is the most important thing you have. Through attention you select what you want to learn and interact with. It is your investment in yourself; each thing that you give your attention to helps to construct the person you are.
Unfortunately, the average human attention span has been rapidly decreasing. The attention span of a goldfish is nine seconds…. which is embarrassingly longer than our average attention span of eight seconds in 2013. 5
Although cell phones may not be entirely to blame, research has demonstrated that there is a strong correlation between mobile phone use and inattention.3 It is recommended to decrease cell phone usage to less than sixty minutes a day to stay focused.
Are you always near your phone, even when you are not actively using it? If so, your cell phone may be decreasing your productivity both inside and outside of work. A study by the University of Chicago found that although the cell phone may be off or faced down, just its presence alone will reduce people’s cognitive capacity. 9
If you are distracted by your phone, this will not solely affect you but also your company or business as a whole. According to a research article, “an average of 2.1 hours of interrupted work per day cost U.S. companies $588 billion per year in lost knowledge, work and downtime.” 2
Interacting with another person face-to-face and maintaining good eye contact helps you to feel calm and understood. Texting and emailing does not include all the nonverbal cues that in-person interaction has, therefore it does not have all the emotional benefits.
You may have seen a couple at a restaurant interacting independently with their phones rather than with each other. This is called “phubbing” and unfortunately, it is on the rise. Phubbing is ignoring someone in a social setting by concentrating on your phone instead. It is associated with decreased feelings of belongingness and has a significant negative effect on communication quality and relationship satisfaction. 1
Are you aware of how much you use your phone? The first step to decreasing your phone dependence is realizing how much time you truly spend on it. You can review your phone usage by making a log or downloading an app for Android or iPhone. If you have an iPhone, you can review your usage in Settings as well. Recognize if there are certain times of the day that you use your phone more than others. What triggers your phone use: do you use it mostly when you are bored? Sad? Lonely?
Set times that you are not to use your phone. For example:
Limit the amount of times you are allowed to check your phone and schedule times when you allow yourself to access your phone. Hold yourself accountable to the boundaries you set.
As explained above, nighttime phone use has multiple negative effects. Avoid these by keeping your phone out of your room all together. Do you use your phone as an alarm? Get a bedside alarm clock instead. This will decrease distractions during the night and prevent you from wasting time scrolling in the morning.
If an app has a website you can reach on your computer, is it necessary for you to have the app on your phone? Try to delete these apps, especially the social media ones. You will still have access to them via computer, but you may notice that you are wasting significantly less time on them. Increased social media usage is correlated with negative self-esteem. Spending less time on this may make you feel better about yourself as well as increase the time you have for you. 6
Your phone beeps and buzzes, begging for attention multiple times throughout the day. Look at those apps that are ringing. If they must remain on your phone, can you turn off their notifications? Turn your phone on silent or do not disturb to limit the times that you may be distracted.
Bright lights and colors are guaranteed to draw your emotions and grab your attention. To cut back on your phone use, try enabling grayscale on your phone. It may not stimulate you as much and it will make apps such as Instagram less appealing.
Designate a time each day to set your phone aside and practice mindfulness meditation. This will promote relaxation and bring a sense of calm into your life. It is a time to connect with and understand yourself.
When I was without my phone, I felt like I was missing something important. I felt naked. How unsettling it is that being alone with yourself is becoming more and more uncomfortable.
If you ever feel that way, recognize it. Give it the attention it deserves. Take control of your phone, don’t allow it to control you. You are the boss. Your phone is a tool, use it wisely or it may take over.
Written by: Maureen Dubczuk