Smartphones have completely revolutionised the way we keep in touch with each other, and the way we access content online. In fact, most of the visitors on our website access it by mobile!
Despite this, there’s a growing epidemic of people seeing the world around them through their smartphones. With our heads down, we miss out on life. The ability to have all this content so close desensitises us to our real lives and those around us and leaves us feeling unfulfilled and empty.
If you’re unsure whether you should tone down your relationship with your phone, ask yourself how you feel the next time you get distracted by a notification. If the answer is anything other than positive then it may be time to dial down.
The phone epidemic doesn’t sound too bad at first, after all it’s an incredible thing being able to access so much information at the tip of our fingers. You can find out anything… like which animal has the longest tail on earth, in a matter of seconds (It’s apparently the giraffe, by the way).
However, having such a vast amount of content so close to us poses its problems. It creates a very strong compulsion to check it constantly. In fact, an Ofcom report from last year found that the average person checks their phone every 12 minutes.
This all adds up to a seriously incredible amount of time. Especially once you consider that once you’ve checked your phone you could easily spend 30 minutes looking through Reddit, Facebook or Twitter. We could spend this time doing something we actually want to do, not just acting out a compulsion.
In fact, the more we check our phones, the more it feeds the compulsion to keep checking. We crave the dopamine release of something interesting being there this time. The more we check, the less has changed and the more we feel compelled to keep looking. This addiction can lead to us feeling unfulfilled and unhappy.
I’m no different. On Facebook, navigating to Menu>Settings>Your Time on Facebook revealed that I’ve spent on average 40 minutes per day on the Facebook app alone in the last week. I had no idea. And that’s just on one app on my phone. Enough is enough, I thought. I removed the app and now use Facebook only on my PC.
I’ll warn you, what we are about to challenge you to do in this article is NOT easy, many people have tried to do it one way or another (including myself) and cave back to spending hours scrolling through pages on our phones. You have my absolute promise that I will be joining you on this challenge. We are going to attempt a digital detox of sorts.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with technology, it’s about changing how we feel about it and managing any feelings of addiction towards it.
1 – Make your phone communication only
First of all, remove the apps that distract us the most. This could be social network apps, news sites, or anything in between. As soon as you have done this, you should immediately feel less compelled to check your phone so often.
You can also go to Settings>General>Notifications (or some variant of that) and disable notifications for any distracting apps you don’t want to uninstall.
2 – Simplify your home screen
Remove apps that you will be tempted to tap just for the sake of it. I have reduced mine to a clock, weather widget, Spotify, Messages and Camera. The key is to train the mind back to seeing the phone as a communication device.
3 – Leave your phone in one room when at home
By leaving your phone in a set room, such as a bedroom or in the hallway, it will help reinforce that your phone is a communication device, not something to constantly check. You can configure phones these days to only notify you if you get a text message or a call which you will hear.
4 – Use a computer when you want to browse the web
Again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with social networks or surfing the web. This article is aimed at people that constantly feel the need to check them on impulse. By using a laptop, we are more likely to surf because we actually want to, not just to feed a compulsion. You’re unlikely to log onto your PC ten times a day to check Twitter.
5 – Be mindful instead
Next time you’re on the bus, focus instead on your surroundings and where you’re going. If you’re waiting for a friend, notice your environment and the sounds around you. By being present, we will automatically feel calmer and happier than if we were lost in the digital world.
After completing these steps, we’ll hopefully spend less time compulsively scrolling through our phones and more time doing what we enjoy.
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