Cell phones have worked their way into almost every facet of our lives. They’re extremely convenient, help us stay connected, and can even provide work, but how much is too much phone usage? On average, how often are you looking your phone each day? Is it the first thing you check in the morning, and the last thing at night?
It’s understandable to look at your phone when you need it for work, or even for fun, but if the thought of going without your phone for eve an hour sounds impossible, then you might be addicted. Addiction to anything is harmful, even if it’s something as convenient and helpful as technology.
The Dangers of Cell Phone Addiction
Instead of just having you take my word for it, I’m going to show you just how dangerous a cell phone addiction really is. The addiction is called Nomophobia, and eight in ten Americans believe cell phones are addictive. With a cell phone addiction, your mental growth, stability, productivity, and even your life is on the line, and that’s just to name a few of the issues.
If your cell phone gets in the way of you driving, you’re adding to a rapidly growing problem that’s still going unreported. Don’t think that using a hands-free cell phone doesn’t attribute to this either, any distraction for a driver is a dangerous one, especially if they’re addicted to it.
It’s hard to believe that something in your pocket can cause so many problems, or that something so helpful is addictive, but if you don’t manage your time with your cell phone, it’s dangerous to you and others.
How to Fight A Cell Phone Addiction
If you believe for even a second that you could have a cell phone addiction or Nomophobia, it’s important to start curbing your addictive behaviour. The first step to beating an addiction is admitting you have a problem, but from there, more action, and help is required.
I’ve outlined a few ways to start getting you less wrapped up in your phone during your day to day, even if it’s only for a few seconds. Any time that you can manage to put your phone away where you otherwise normally wouldn’t is a victory, just like with any addiction.
1. Put the Phone Down
So this seems obvious, and if you could do this, you’d already do it, right? I don’t just mean to drop your cell phone and never pick it up again, but what I want you to do is just put your phone down for ten seconds.
All you need to do is put your phone face down on top of something for ten seconds, and make sure to count each one out. After the ten seconds are up, pick it back up and do whatever you want with it. That sounds easy, right?
After you’ve done this once today, you don’t have to do it again until the next day. If you don’t think ten seconds is enough, add more time, or if you want, subtract time. The actual amount of time doesn’t matter, it’s just the action itself.
Showing yourself that you can put down your phone if you want to, even if it’s only for a brief amount of time is a great way to start curbing, or at least identify an addiction. Remember, almost everything on your phone can wait, at least for a few minutes.
2. Look at the Apps You’re Using
One of the first steps for tackling an addiction is to identify where it comes from. If you’re on your phone too much, what are you doing on it? Are you checking social media, catching up with the news, playing games, or doing something completely different?
Any time you open an app, ask yourself: “Why am I opening this?” Even if you can’t find an answer, asking yourself the question is a great first step. When you ask yourself a question, you give yourself time to pause and think. During that time, decide whether or not you really need to be on your phone now or not.
The next time you open an app you use frequently, start a timer. Stop the timer when you close the app again and see how much time you’ve spent using it. Sometimes it helps to see the time climb higher and higher as it passes to help you manage your time more effectively.
3. Make Use of Do Not Disturb or Priority
Even if you’re desperately trying not to check your phone, hearing or seeing a notification is too tempting to ignore. Putting your phone into DnD mode doesn’t stop you from checking it, but it does stop it from calling you to you.
This isn’t as effective as turning off your cell phone entirely, and it’s less drastic, but it’s still a great way to help curb an addiction. For more recent Android phones, Do not Disturb, or Priority toggles are below the volume bar when you start raising or lowering your phone volume.
4. Delete Problem Apps
Let’s say it isn’t everything about your phone itself that’s addicting, it’s just one or two of your apps that you keep coming back to the entire day. Be it something like Twitter, or a game that you like playing. If you don’t think you can stay off of it, deleting it makes sure you at least have to go through the trouble of installing it again.
5. Power Down Your Device
Before we get into anything more drastic, one strategy that works is pulling the plug completely. Completely power down your device set it down somehow out of sight and out of mind, and continue on with your day.
Even if you power it back on right after, this still gives you at least a brief moment away from your cell phone, which puts you one step closer away from addiction. Try and keep your device turned off for as long as you can manage, but if you need it on to take a call or contact someone, turn it back on.
6. Help from a Friend
If you can’t trust yourself with your phone when you’re addicted, why not give it to someone you trust? This can be a friend or a family member who you know will make sure to keep your phone safe, and only give it back to you when you absolutely need it. The next step after this one is a little more extreme but very effective.
7. Buy a Time Locked Container
If you either think you can’t trust someone to hold your phone or don’t have the right person for the job, there’s container that does the same thing. The only catch here is once something is put inside, and you set the time lock, you can’t open it again until the time runs out. There’s no emergency override, just the timer.
This is absolutely for someone who cannot stay off of their phone but knows they need to to get through the day. There are a few different container brands to choose from, and while this is a little expensive, I recommend this one here:
8. Downgrade Your Device
While a cell phone is useful for emergencies, it’s additionally useful for almost every other facet of your life. This means that you’re looking at it, and interacting with it constantly because it can do so much for you and your day. If your cell phone couldn’t do all that, it’d be a much less tempting day in and day out.
I don’t just mean downloading an earlier version of your firmware either, I mean going back to a previous phone that has significantly fewer features. It’s not exactly conventional, but with an older phone, packed with fewer features, you’ll have an easier time keeping it in your pocket, and not your hands.
9. Pick up an Engaging and Productive Hobby
An attachment to technology isn’t always because of addiction, sometimes it’s from a stunning lack of engaging activities. When the last time you sat down to read a book, or try your hand at a jigsaw puzzle? Those are just two examples, but what’s a physical or mental activity you haven’t done in a while, or never tried?
If you’ve never done a jigsaw puzzle before, it sounds kind of silly that something like would be able to take your mind off of technology, but I recommend it. A jigsaw puzzle is a very small scale example, but taking the time to put something together is an extremely soothing activity if you approach it with a calm mind.
Your hobby doesn’t have to be about putting something together. You could learn to play an instrument, learn a new language, or just sit down and write about your day; anything you do that isn’t on your phone helps distance you from addiction.
Nomophobia isn’t just an addiction to cell phones, it’s an intense fear to be away from them. Your phone is a special and convenient tool, things aren’t the other way around. A cell phone addiction turns your life into your phone, but you can still take it back. Take a deep breath, do what you can to distance yourself from technology, and win back your day.
Cell phone addiction is still a topic for debate, so if you have anything to share, please do in the comments below.