“I’m always checking my phone, whether it rings or not.”
“I need to check that work email real quick, even though I’m in the middle of dinner.”
“Scroll. Scroll. Scroll…for endless hours without even noticing how much time has passed.”
“I get a panic attack whenever I get a low battery warning.”
“I’m driving but I also need to text…or check Twitter…or Instagram.”
“My phone needs to sleep beside me.”
Is this you? Then, you might be addicted to your phone!
I’m not even judging you because I’m also addicted to my phone. It’s like the more I use it, the more I need to use it. There’s always something to check, some message to reply, some Whatsapp group gist to finish up, some guy to stalk in Instagram. I also go crazy whenever I feel like I’ve lost my phone. Like, really crazy.
Why are people attached to their phones?
Phones are usually seen as a link to the outside world. They allow you have contact with others through social media and text messaging. Phones also store photos, videos and other personal information. Phones can be personalised (ring tones, lock screens, etc). This personalisation creates a sort of increase in value because it has become an object of attachment or a reflection of oneself.
Attachment to our phones also has something to do with how we’ve wired our brains. Whenever we start to feel anxious from being separated from our phones, it’s not because we’re imagining it. It’s because we are experiencing real signs of addiction withdrawal.
According to a report:
During a recent 60 Minutes piece, researchers at California State University, Dominguez Hills, connected electrodes to reporter Anderson Cooper’s fingers to measure changes in heart rate and perspiration, just as they had done previously with subjects in experiments. Then they sent text messages to his phone but placed it just out of reach. To no surprise, Cooper’s breathing changed, his perspiration increased and his heart rate spiked with each notification.
You see? Addiction.
Also, Dr. Susan Weinschenk explains this process. She says:
With the internet, twitter, and texting you now have almost instant gratification of your desire to seek. Want to talk to someone right away? Send a text and they respond in a few seconds. Want to look up some information? Just type your request into google… It’s easy to get in a dopamine induced loop. Dopamine starts you seeking, then you get rewarded for the seeking which makes you seek more. It becomes harder and harder to stop looking at email, stop texting, or stop checking your cell phone to see if you have a message or a new text.
So, what can be done to break the cycle?
- Stop sleeping with your phone! Seriously. Just get it out of the bedroom. Using your phone within an hour of bedtime leads to poorer sleep quality. Whenever I wake up in the middle of the night, the first thing I reach for is my phone. I stay on Twitter or Instagram for up to an hour. Your sleep gets even more negatively impacted when you do things like this. Also, when you wake up and check your phone before getting out of bed, you are just setting the mood for the rest of the day. And no, don’t say you’re using your phone as an alarm clock, that’s what actual alarm clocks are for.
- Go on a diet. A digital diet. Start to reduce your screen time gradually because going cold turkey isn’t exactly realistic. You could also start by deleting those addictive games (read: Candy Crush) and then reinstalling them when you’ve had a better grasp of things.
- Don’t check your emails before work unless you’re a neurosurgeon or a CEO (you get the point). You can actually afford to wait until work time before checking that email. Checking your work email earlier means you’re open to distractions from those tempting apps.
- Customise your notifications. You know how this goes. Set up notifications for the really important stuff so that when your phone beeps or rings, you know you have to get it. The other unimportant stuff like Instagram likes on your photo from a year ago can actually wait.
- Airplane mode. This will help you if you want to focus on your tasks. You’ll be left with your clock and camera. You can also do this while driving or performing other tasks that reqire your full attention.
Are you addicted to your phone? Do you have other tips on how to control your phone usage? Let us know!