With the news that we’re now spending more time on our phones than with our significant others, it might be time to think about reducing our screen time.
In fact, 62% of recently polled Brits said they hate how much time they spend on their phones. If you also wish you were less addicted to your device, we might be able to help.
Should we be worried?
New research from the University of Derby on “smartphone addiction and its related psychological characteristics” claims that the more you use your phone, the higher the risk of becoming addicted.
The study’s average user spent 3.6 hours per day on his or her phone, with 13% of participants described as “addicted.” The psychological characteristics of smartphone addiction, and its links to narcissism, are particularly worrying.
Psychologist Dr. Deepika Chopra sees a strong link between social media and time spent on smartphones.
Too much social media or smartphone usage may be costing you more than just time
Too much social media or smartphone usage may be costing you more than just time,” she tells Mashable. “Studies show it may be stealing your happiness, stunting development in children, and decreasing academic and social potential in our college student population.”
Other research has shown that more time spent on Facebook, which Chopra says has increased because of smartphone app, has increased feelings of loneliness. Furthermore, studies have linked tablet usage to stunted development in toddlers.
“My fear is that it is killing our society’s ability to interact with humans in real life … I believe more than ever that we must work hard to create a sense of balance — and even a sense of boundary building — when it comes to social media and smartphone usage in order to continue to enjoy and sharpen our cognitive and emotional abilities, develop [instinct], and connect and relate to one other, especially where empathy is concerned.”
So, how can we try and build those boundaries so that we spend less time on our phones? Here are our suggestions.
1. Turn off notifications.
Does checking a single notification turn into a half-hour of phone browsing? You’re not alone — it’s all too easy to get sucked into the social media world through one alert.
If you disable all unnecessary notifications, this is less likely to happen. Even muting your device to stop audio alerts can end that impulse we all have to check our phones whenever they chirp.
2. Find out how much you’re using your phone.
If you’d like to shock yourself into reducing phone time, maybe some cold, hard stats would help.
These apps also allow you to set alerts to remind you if you are using your phone too much.
3. SET UP PHONE-FREE PERIODS EVERY DAY.
You don’t need your phone at the dinner table, in the bathroom, or while you’re watching a movie or reading a book.
Try to set up phone-free periods during the day. Schedule them when you’re busy doing something else, in order to make the break a bit easier. For example, you could put your phone on Airplane Mode for the first hour after you get home from work. Chances are you’ll be busy making dinner, spending time with your family or getting ready to go out, so you won’t feel the need to check in.
4. DON’T USE YOUR PHONE AS AN ALARM CLOCK.
Don’t even take your phone into the bedroom. How many of us, as we set our alarms, check our phones just before we go to sleep? And then how many of us, once the alarm has gone off, check our phones first thing in the morning?
Removing your phone from the room can also remove the overall temptation.
5. TRAIN YOURSELF WITH ‘TECH BREAKS.’
If the previous tips don’t work for you and you’re still spending more time on your phone than you’d like, then you may need to kick it up a notch.
According to Dr. Larry D. Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University and author of iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us, what he suggests.
“One easy way is to slowly train your yourself with ‘tech breaks,'” . “Start by looking at your phone for one minute and checking all forms of communication, including texts, calls and social media. Then turn it off, set the alarm for 15 minutes and place it face-down in plain sight. The upside-down phone reminds your brain to not release stress and anxiety neurotransmitters.”
The next time it rings or chirps, check it again for only one minute. Keep doing that until it feels natural not to check in, and see that you didn’t miss anything.
“Increase your tech break by five minutes every week or so, and soon you will be able to not check in for an hour or more without getting anxious about what you may have missed,” Rosen advises. “It also trains your friends, family and colleagues to not expect that immediate Pavlovian response!”