We’re not going to sit here and say, “Go ahead and throw your smartphone in the garbage disposal,” because, let’s get real. It’s our lifeline — and that’s not a horrible thing. With our smartphones, we can capture moments when we would have needed a camera before. We can use GPS. And we can read articles just like the very one you’re reading all over the World Wide Web, all on one device. They’re kind of amazing. But it’s their very amazing-ness that makes them so addictive.
The next time you’re out to dinner, look around to see how many faces are illuminated by that white-blue glow of their phones. It’s kind of a weird scene to see people in a real-life social setting resorting to a screen for interaction. We already know that staring down at your phone constantly can cause physical issues with your spine, but it turns out that smartphone addiction is detrimental to more than your back and your dinner conversation. Thankfully, there are solutions to your problems, and we’re here to Upgrade Your Life with four fixes to make it happen!
1. Problem: You feel Like You’re Always on the Clock: Jeremy Vandehey is a technologist whose job is to develop things for our smartphones that make them more enticing, but even he realizes that when people know you can see their email, they expect you to answer it. Even worse, he said, you expect people to reply to your every status update, tweet and Insta post with likes for your own self-validation. Apps that were created to be fun become a job to get the most hearts.
Solution: Vandehey suggests turning off your notifications and putting your phone on silent. The less distractions you have and the less pressure you feel from work in off-work hours, the more you can really relax.
2. Problem: You’re Replacing Real Relationships With Digital Ones: In Korea, people take smartphone addiction pretty seriously. A professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) said that a person who has a normal relationship with their phone will use it to communicate with people who they actually know, but “Smartphone addicts may think they are strengthening their real-world relationships [when using their phones] when in actuality they are overusing some apps for relationship management.” Sound familiar? Yikes.
Solution: The less time you spend on your phone overall, the less you’ll keep latching on to it as a social crutch. A good start to purging your digital life is to streamline your screen. Vandehey suggests deleting all those apps you don’t use and keeping only your must-have apps on your home screen. Keep the others on other screens and in folders, so you don’t find yourself randomly tapping yourself to oblivion without even realizing it. (Image via Jeremy Vandehey)
3. Problem: You Use It Because You’re Bored: According to the same professor from KAIST, a recent study found that people who flee to their phones for a mood booster can more easily form an addiction. Louis C.K. phrased it with a bit more humor when he said, “You need to build the ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That’s what the phones are taking away.” So go ahead, be bored.
Solution: There are apps out there to keep you in check every time you go to use your phone. BreakFree Cell Phone Addiction is one of those apps. It will make you do a second click to get into your phone, asking you if you really need it. It also tracks your daily, weekly and monthly phone usage in time and screen unlocks.
4. Problem: You’re Losing Sleep: Mashable reported on a recent study that compares sleep patterns with technology usage. The results led to what researchers dubbed a “dose-response relationship.” It means the more screen time you give yourself, the less likely sleep will come when you need it. Not to mention the harm of you actually bringing your phone into the bed.
Science proves that just the light from your phone can steal ZZZs. Studies have pinpointed the blue LED light emitted from your screen as being the culprit in messing with your production of melatonin. But, it can also just be the fact that you’re stimulating your mind and possibly raising your heart rate at a time when your body should be shutting down.
Solution: There’s still a lot of testing that has to be done in the realm of smartphone sleeplessness, and scientists are still digging up more details, but we’d like to prescribe a pretty simple solution: Don’t bring your phone to bed. Simple as that. If it’s your alarm clock, buy an actual alarm clock instead. No more dozing off to Instagram. (Image via Philips)
In order to make your dependent relationship with your smartphone a more independent one, it’s all a matter of moderation. Take a break from the screen, and before you know it, you may be able to watch an entire sunset without Instagramming it.
What do you do to ease up on your smartphone addiction? Share tips and tricks in the comments!