Let’s face it; it is easy to become addicted to smartphones. They are so engaging, after all. We use our smartphones to control a good bit of our lives. Smartphones take pictures and post to social media for us. They help us keep on track with our schedules and calendars. We use them as music storage devices and jukeboxes to entertain us and make music suggestions for our every mood. Smartphones allow us to watch TV and movies wherever we are. Smartphones wake us up in the morning, and work to make sure we go to bed at night. We also get a ton of information from our smartphones, whether we are surfing social media, or news on the internet.
Many of us are constantly looking at our smartphones—to the point that we are constantly distracted. We check our phones when we are out on a date, dining with family and friends, or while driving. We play games on our phones or text friends while we are walking down the street. We even scroll through our Facebook feed in our bed early in the morning or late at night instead of sleeping. We ignore family, friends, and lovers for our phone. If this sounds like you—you may have a small addiction problem. Not sure what to do to help yourself? We have some suggestions for you.
Make a Change in Your Viewing Habits
More than likely you have a daily routine, which means that at specific times, you are looking at your phone. For example, you may be checking your phone during a meeting underneath the table. You may also be checking your phone when you go into the bathroom—don’t laugh—we all do it.
Experts say you should try to eliminate your phone checking habits either at the beginning of the day, or at the end of the day. If you are checking your phone at the beginning of the day, you may want to charge your phone someplace other than the bedroom. The same holds true for day’s end. If your phone is charging someplace where you can’t reach it, it is easier to ignore it. To stop checking your phone first thing in the morning, wait to check it until you are eating breakfast.
During the Day
A recent study noted the average American checks his or her phone an astounding 46 times per day. If you are one of those Americans (or other nationalities), you need to make some changes. While you are at work, you may want to consider muting your phone. If you can’t consider muting your phone during the day, you can turn it off for specific times during the day. Don’t keep your phone close by, such as in your pocket or sitting on your desk or table at work. Think about putting it in your purse or the pocket of your jacket. Out of sight, out of mind.
Another method is to get your friends and family to help keep each other accountable. For example, maybe you and your roommates can make a bet that no one checks their phone after 10 p.m. on weekdays. You can also include a bet that no one checks his or her phone before 10 a.m. on weekends. If you have an agreement going on with someone, it will be easier to stick to it.
This notion of keeping your phone out of sight isn’t just because your phone is a distraction. Researchers estimate that if you can see your phone, it actually reduces your cognitive skills.
Change Your Phone
Do you get a ping or a whistle every time you get some kind of message on your phone? If so, you will find your phone much harder to ignore and your pattern much harder to break. If you get a notification on your smartphone each time something happens, you will never get anything done. Both Apple and Android phones allow you to control the amount of notifications you receive. You can choose to turn off individual applications or all applications if you want. You also have the option to put your phone on silent mode, and turn it over. This way, you can’t see or hear notifications at all. Airplane mode cuts off your wireless network and phone network connection as well. It also saves your battery. You may also want to try power saving mode, which also reduces your notifications. Many phones have a do not disturb mode, which you can turn on, so you don’t receive notifications.
You may also decide to uninstall applications, so that your phone is as basic as possible. This may be considered a nuclear option. However, for some people who are seriously addicted, this decision makes the addiction much easier to control.
Applications That Can Help You
There are applications you can install to help you reduce your phone use. You should check them out, and decide which type of app is right for you. Checky tracks how many times you unlock your phone during the day. We caution that your initial reading might be disconcerting, but over time, you should be able to reduce the number. Checky is free in the app stores for both Apple and Android phones.
One of the most popular apps for phones is called AppDetox. AppDetox is free for Android phones, and works to reduce or limit the amount of time you spend on particular apps. The app also lets you see records for how often you are on a particular app on your phone. AppDetox also sets limits for you. It limits times during the day you can open a specific app, and how many times you can launch it during the day. Like AppDetox, Flipd (free for Android and Apple users) blocks access to specific apps for particular periods of time. It gives you longer times to lock your phone. It also allows you to chart your app use over specific times during the day, week or month. Onward (free for Apple users) allows you to control how often you use apps on your phone. It even coaches you on ways to break your addiction to your smart phones. You are allowed to set up your own rules for phone app use.
You may not be a fan of intrusive apps that try and tell you what to do. Forest, which is free for basic service for Apple and Android users, is for you. Instead of harassing you to give up your phone, Forest makes giving up your phone a game. You plant a seed, which grows into a tree over time you are off the phone. If you ditch your poor little tree to surf Instagram, your tree dies. While it sounds kind of silly, Forest has proven effective in distracting people from their phones.
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