With the rise of smartphones, people have become more attached to the cell phones in their pockets. This is understandable, since phones went from being stuck in one place and only used with calling cards to accessing the internet and increasing the ways you can communicate with people.
Even though smartphones have brought a lot of good change to the world, they can pose a problem if you get too dependent on your own, which is easy to do. There are so many ways to entertain yourself and keep multiple conversations going, but that can cause you to form a legitimate phone addiction. So how do you know if you have an addiction? Look at how you use your time.
When you’re waiting for the elevator, do you instinctively start scrolling through Facebook? Maybe you’re watching TV with a friend, and when the show or your conversation takes a lull, you pull out your phone and start watching Instagram stories without realizing you’re even doing it.
So how can you reduce your dependence on your phone? Take a look at these four tips for managing screen addiction to help you kick your “I have to check my phone now” habit to the curb.
1. Use a real watch and alarm clock
Smartphones have the clock app that does amazing things — like provide a single place to check time zones, set timers and even schedule alarms to help you wake up. This can be useful, but it can also encourage screen addiction. When you keep picking up your phone to check the time, it gives you a chance to get distracted by other notifications.
Additionally, when you have your phone on all night waiting to go off at 6 a.m., you’re going to feel more inclined to check your notifications when you wake up halfway through the night and need to check the time.
While you may not need to turn off your phone for your phone’s sake, you might need to do it for your sake. Staring at your screen before you head off to dreamland doesn’t actually help you sleep better. And if it helps at all, watches are back “in” again! So, help yourself kick your smartphone habit and invest in a wristwatch and a real alarm clock. Odds are that alarm clock is even louder than the alarm on your smartphone anyway.
2. Eat without a screen
If you get the opportunity to sit down with family every night for a meal, make the dinner table a no-phone zone. Your family will feel more welcomed and loved, leading to more positive relationships. You’ll be able to eat and have a good conversation that’ll refresh you after a long day of work, which will feel better than liking some statuses over chicken and pasta.
This is more difficult for those who live alone and may prefer videos to be playing while they eat so they don’t feel surrounded by silence. Instead, choose one meal each day to spend without technology. Eat lunch in the kitchen at work? Read a book if you can’t sit down with a coworker — anything to stretch your brain and show yourself that you can say no when it comes to your phone.
3. Leave emails for work
Anyone who works in a fast-paced environment knows it’s difficult to not check that email notification when you get home or while you’re making coffee in the morning. You wouldn’t want to miss any kind of emergency by not opening that email, and chances are you won’t. Unless you’re the head of a company, you can probably wait until you clock in to deal with whatever’s going on in the office.
So many people check their work email outside the office that even lawmakers in some countries started to acknowledge it was a problem. That’s why the French actually outlawed checking emails after work. There may not be any laws like this where you live, but it’s healthy to separate your work and private life as much as you can. If there’s really something important for you to deal with, people can just give you a call.
4. Schedule your phone time
Be proactive with your screen addiction by not cutting it off completely but scheduling when you can use your phone — think thirty minutes to an hour at a time. This will teach your brain that it’s possible to wait to use your favorite apps. When you get comfortable with your routine, cut down that time you use it and continue until you figure out a minimized phone schedule that works for you.
You can also try signing up for one of the many screen addiction management apps that are available now — some of these even allow you to designate the most addictive apps on your phone and set a time for your phone to literally lock you out of those apps.
Some methods are more extreme than others, but depending on how much help you need, it can be helpful to start off with heavier restrictions just to get into a new mindset where your phone is concerned.
Eventually, you’ll overcome the habit.
Having a phone addiction doesn’t make you a bad person, and you’re certainly not alone. You have the power to change what your brain reaches for when you get free time — you just have to know what strategy works best for you. Learn where your biggest weaknesses are and work to improve them. You’ll end up a stronger person who can comfortably put your phone away whenever you want and enjoy the world around you more.