These addiction statistics are quite overwhelming:
The typical cell phone user touches his or her phone 2,617 times every day. 2,617 times!
Most people, on average, spend 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phones each day.
Half of all phone pickups happen within 3 minutes of a previous one.
Studies have shown that spending too much time on your phone is bad for your focus and mental health.
As 2022 kicks off, there are some easy ways to build better digital habits.
Try turning off notifications, kicking your phone out of your bedroom and even turning on grayscale.
And the impact of this usage is staggering:
Reducing the quality of conversations.
Adversely impacting short-term memory and problem solving.
Negatively affecting our sleep patterns.
Resulting in more negativity, distress, and less emotional recovery in young children.
And the positive correlation between smartphone addiction and depression is alarming.
You would think, given the statistics and what we know to be true about cell phone usage, it would be easy to put down and walk away. But I can attest the technology addiction struggle is real.
A lot of people might be battling this issue, so, we thought about listing out Ten ways to De-addict yourself from smartphones.
Larry Rosen, psychology professor and author of The Distracted Mind.
1) Keep yourself on a schedule.
The most basic step that Rosen suggests for weaning yourself off your phone is literally setting alarms specifying how often you can check it. Start with every 15 minutes, then move to every half hour, every 45 minutes, or every hour. When your alarm sounds, spend one minute going through any and all notifications and then reset the timer.
To reduce response-anxiety and hold yourself accountable, Rosen suggests telling close friends or family that you may not be responding to their messages as quickly as you used to.
2) Do not do everything on one device.
A smartphone can replace today’s books, newspapers, magazines, MP3 player, camera, TV, game console, computer, and many other useful things. Plus, it gives you broader opportunities that the previous generations didn’t have. But it doesn’t mean that we have to let it replace everything.
3) Purchase a Feature Phone.
If you have some extra cash and can afford a feature phone, it is the best way to de-addict yourself from smartphones. A feature phone lacks social media applications, and has support for a few games, which are not appealing to the millennial crowd and, the basic use case of a feature phone is to make calls.
This will greatly help combat your addiction since you will not be able to do most of the tasks that you do with your regular smartphone.
Another possibility of this is to go back to using an older phone that you might be owning, since that too will lack some applications and, considering the downgrades when compared to your smartphone, it will result in less usage since you will feel awkward in doing so.
4) Turn off as many push notifications as possible.
You don’t have to be interrupted by every “like” that your latest Instagram picture receives or with the message that your favorite podcast just released a new episode.
An incredibly simple way to cut down on distractions is to turn off push notifications for as many apps as you can. Just head to Settings > Notifications to control your preferences.
Personally, I only left notifications on for email, chat app messages, my calendars, and utility apps such as Lyft or GetAround, which only activate when I’m using them.
5) Use Applications for help.
Sometimes, you need a little bit of enforcement to reduce your smartphone usage. To do this, there are applications available that can help you limit your smartphone usage. There are many apps available in Google Play Store that lock the applications that might be distracting and you will be able to use these apps after a certain amount of time.
Some of these apps are ActionDash, StayFree – Screen Time Tracker, YourHour – Phone Addiction Tracker, etc. All these apps track your smartphone usage habits and keep a track of the apps that you use the most.
You can set a predefined time for each individual app or a category of apps, which when exceeded will lock the app for the day and you won’t be able to access the app. These apps help in maintaining your ideal smartphone usage balance and can help curb smartphone addiction.
In case you use a smartphone that has stock Android then your device would have come with Digital Wellbeing functionality, which is a feature included on most new stock Android smartphones. These help one target and combat their smartphone addiction including checking the number of hours they have used a particular app and, limiting usage of these particular apps.
6) Replace the bad habit.
When you’re bored and want to kill the time, why not to grab a book instead of your phone? Psychologists advise replacing a bad habit of constant phone checking with a good one. So now when you stand in the queue or have some spare minute, feel free to read a few pages of your favorite author instead of scrolling news feed on your smartphone.
7) Get real.
Instead of interacting with your nearest and dearest over the phone or on social media, find time for face-to-face meetings. Try to communicate with real people, not virtual friends and acquaintances. Meet people in real life, share real emotions and conversations. It’s really great!
8) Take distracting apps off your home screen.
“A lot of [phone usage] is unconscious behavior,” according to Rosen. “You shift from Facebook to Instagram, to checking the weather, to texts.”
But if you have to specifically seek out an app to use it, you’ll cut down on the “accidental” time-sucks that happen when you just start tapping around on your phone.
Keep the apps that you want to encourage yourself to use — like those for reading or learning a new language — front and center, but banish anything that you want to limit your time with to folders on your second page of apps (or if you have an Android phone, off the screen entirely).
To go a step further, you could even delete certain apps such as Facebook or Twitter entirely and relegate your usage to your smartphone’s web browser.
9) If you have a smart speaker, put it to use.
One of the most valuable things about smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo or Google’s Home products is that they help you live a more screen-free life.
Since I got one, I’ve stopped turning on music or podcasts on my phone and will try to answer all basic questions via voice. Generally, using my smart speaker for as many things as possible has kept my smartphone out of my hands for longer periods.
10) Put a hairband around your phone.
In one of the most thoughtful personal stories I’ve ever read on how to overcome cell phone addiction, Brad Soroka recommends placing a hairband around your cell phone.
When placed in the middle of the phone, the hairband allows users to answer phone calls easily, but makes other uses of the phone more difficult (including simple texting).
In his words, “Every time you want to use your phone, this brings about a mindfulness exercise and makes you ask ‘what is my intention?’ If you really want to use the phone, set your intention for why, and remove the hair band.”
The hairband trick is not about making your phone impossible to use. The practice is about bringing greater mindfulness to each specific use of it… as opposed to mindlessly unlocking your phone every 3 minutes.
When used as a collection of tools to improve my work, health, parenting, and life, cell phones are wonderful and bring countless benefits.
But when used mindlessly and unintentionally, they become a distraction from the things in life that matter most—in addition to the negative effects listed above.
Learning how to use our smartphones effectively may be one of the most important life skills any of us can learn.
Remember that the addiction takes place when there are problems in your life. If you live a full life, if you have proper ways to overcome difficulties like communication with your nearest and dearest, you’re less likely to develop an addiction.
So the lasting fix to become less addicted to your phone is not about the phone itself. It is more about the change of the priorities and dedicating more time to people around you.