Our brains treat our devices like relationship partners. Over a million people rely on their smartphones to tell them pretty much everything. Ask anyone who is not addicted to their mobile phone? Sure a smartphone has all the functions of a computer yet, the average person checks a mobile phone is 110 times a day. Do you take your phone to the toilet (on average 40 percent of adults check phones on the toilet), shower, check before bed, when you wake in the morning, place it under your pillow or bed switched on and on silent, take your phone when you leave the home, take or perhaps use your phone in the car, check emails when on vacation rather than enjoying the present moment becasue of FOMO (fear of missing out), and you depend on it for social situations?
It’s clear we are finding the seperation of not having our smartphones a case of serious “phoneitisis” and we really can’t live without them at a hands reach. Actually, smartphone addiction has a clinical name “nomophobia” (short for fear of no mobile phone). Being hooked or addicted to our mobiles is not helping young people either with a growing number of students using mobile phones in classrooms not linked to education usage and social comparsion. Even more concerning is the fact is this addiction is linked to some serious mental health risks and anxiety.
Scrolling is controlling us- let it stop!
Last month, I gave up my mobile phone and went off social media (#iquitsocialmediaforamonth). Most people thought I was crazy and with the extra time I gained I noticed more around me and my typical day felt less stressful and calmer. I felt more connected and rather not withdrawn. As an educator our phones are part of our teaching and learning toolbox. I feel the need to reach out and share the “connection”to disconnect as we become engrossed in something its hard to break the habit. So, try 15 minutes a day, 30 minutes a day, 1 hour a day and see how actually better you can feel and absorb a real connection and seek out new information thats not online, or even pick up a book.
I recall a conversation with a friend when in mid sentence she put her head down and started using her phone in front of me like I was not even there. Nothing should stop us from talking and being in the present moment. Whatever we do its our responsibility to break the habit of “over-using” our smartphones. In short, its hard to maintain but, day by day we can kick this habit.
At the alarming rate of conversations that more and more people are wanting to get offline I want to tell you it’s the happiness you discover without your phone that may surprise you. Interestingly I took up writing again, spent time with my kids, time in the garden (green time), and learnt mindfulness is not for hippies.
Sure smartphones can teach us to meditate with apps and there are apps for switching off but what if the marketing of apps and have businesses gone to far. What happened to the holistic, healthly, old fashion approach of classic of admiting we have a problem and doing something about it. Part of the problem is “using” is that we think social media will give us a boost, but it doesn’t, rather it makes us feel worse. Are we really finding it hard to balance and should we be living a phone-free day to live screen free?
What about living our lives rather than looking at people’s lives online which are crafted posts for our family and friends (and images taken, checked, edited and re-checked again!) And yes a whole museum has dedicated to taking selfies. This is alarming and telling us to slow down and see how our interactions with our phones change. It may take a while but its time to stand up and disconnect to connect.
Social media is not the problem but, rather us, as humans how we respond to our friends and family. We live wired to what’s happening next or what did I miss out on. Fomo is a real and the fear of missing out is increasing worry not only to our lifestyles but also our brains. I’m thankful in knowing mindfulness as using it as a social media detox has probably been one of the biggest life savers for me. You only need to catch public transport and see most people are heads down or responding to something on their phone. Gone of the days of speaking to the person next to you and asking how are you today.
Research claims that online and mobile phone addiction is on the rise. This impacting on individuals, researchers claiming higher levels of depression and anxiety contributed by fomo which impacts on our sleep and quality of life. And if we’re not careful it could captivate our attention.
So what can we do about it?
Start to look at your everyday habits. Are you waking up and checking your mobile phone? Then that is a sign you are addicted to spending time on your phone.
The signs are easy to identify and here’s how to know
1/ how much time are you spending on the phone by doing an audit assessment you can see the truth about how much time you are spending head down and not heads up living and enjoying life connected to the world in the present moment
2/ are you sleeping with your phone beside you or even under your pillow? Is it switched off or on flight mode?
3/ do you feel you need to respond at a moments notice to emails, texts and social media apps?
Try these 10 tips to detox your phone addiction
1/ create a smartphone detox plan to switch off your mobile phone and place it in a box that is safe switch off place
2/ switch your mobile phone to silent when you drive or in your bag or glovebox. Give the road your all!
3/ let friends and family know you are having time off social media and get them to communicate differently and ask for support
4/ give yourself a ‘digital curfew’ and set times when to check emails outside of work commitments
5/ don’t bring your phone to the dinner table
6/ go offline one hour before bed
7/ set up your alarms prior to last minute rushing
8/ take your mobile out of the bedroom
9/where possible in the workplace put your phone in your draw not on your desk
10/ charge your phone outside your bedroom and set to flight mode at night
No matter what it is a daily dose of reminders that will support us to change our habits. I’ll support you and hope you can pass this on to help someone next to you!
People look at their phones the most between peak hours of 5pm-8pm instead try time well spent on mindfulness and meditation to promote connectivity to your daily life and combine visualisation, imagery, melody and rhythm.