Recently, I noticed that I wasn’t able to sit through a 30 minute episode of my latest Netflix obsession without checking my phone. I wasn’t waiting for an important work email or a text from a date.
I was just… looking.
I’ve realised that my phone is almost never more than an arms-length away from me. I’m even checking it as I write this blog post, YIKES!
The question at hand: are we addicted to our phones and um… should we be worried? Or is it just a sign of the times? Maybe we should accept that technology is just a part of of work and personal lives and it makes things easier? Here are my thoughts.
How to tell if you’re addicted to your phone:
And why we should be worried…
It’s great to see what friends and family who we can’t see on a regular basis are up to. And it feels good to get “likes” on your latest photo. But it’s real life interactions and relationships that nourish and satisfy us. If we’re replacing those with digital ones, we’re missing out. Plus think about all those times you could have struck up a conversation with a stranger but instead you had your head down looking at your phone.
I love THIS video. It’s called “Look Up” and is a spoken word film for an online generation:
We’re never fully present
You know what I hate? Those people who will have full-on WhatsApp conversations (with OTHER people!) while we’re having dinner or drinks together. What’s so important that you have to be talking to someone else, who isn’t even in the same room as us? But it’s becoming the norm. Even I have to admit that I often keep my phone on the table.
Switching off becomes impossible
Psychotherapist Nancy Colier states, “without open spaces and downtime, the nervous system never shuts down — it’s in constant fight-or-flight mode… We’re wired and tired all the time. Even computers reboot, but we’re not doing it.”
Our attention span and therefore, our productivity is in decline
We can’t just sit and focus on one thing anymore. Our monkey minds seem to always want to check our apps, doing the “mindless death scroll” as Mary puts it and we’re always going and googling a question on a whim. Our brains are constantly looking for something else. Research has shown that multi-tasking is a myth which means that every time we check an app, we’re decreasing our efficiency and our ability to concentrate.
Here are some warning signs that you might have an unhealthy relationship with your phone:
- You have trouble completing tasks at work or home. Laundry might piling up or those emails STILL haven’t been answered. Is your productivity in decline because you’re checking your phone too much
- You’ve got FOMO. Do you hate to feel out of the loop or think you’re missing out on important news or information if you don’t check you phone regularly?
- Leaving your phone at home (or even in another room) would make you feel anxious or panicked. How about if the battery runs out or the screen freezes and nothing works? What about simply not being able to check it for more than 3 hours?
- You’ve felt phantom vibrations or noises. This is where you think your phone has vibrated or made a noise but when you check, there are no new messages or updates.
- Do you stay up later than necessary at night because you’re on your phone?
How to break the addiction in 3 easy steps:
Take notice of when using your phone is a necessity and when you use it out of habit and self distraction.
Set yourself small challenges
It could be as simple as putting your phone away on the train or while you’re waiting in line or for a friend. Or, leave your phone in another room between the hours of 9pm and 8am. Build up the challenges until you’ve beaten the addiction.
Follow psychotherapist Colier’s advice and become very conscious of what is important to you. What really nourishes you? Devote more time and attention to these things.
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