What is phone addiction?
You took out your phone, logged into Instagram – checked some stories, clicked a reel from a story and then watched a series of reels, got bored, scrolled Whatsapp and responded to all unread messages, clicked a YouTube link on a chat window there, and started watching videos there.
In one of those Videos, a Doctor is talking about how excessive mobile time affects work routine, and that is when you realize that you actually had taken out your phone to reply to your manager’s email.! Now you hurriedly open Gmail and start composing your email to your manager. Does it sound familiar.? Well, these could be the early days of your phone addiction.
Symptoms of phone addiction
According to research, the following are some of the key symptoms of phone addiction :
- More and more time using a phone.
- Neglect or trouble completing duties at work, study, or home.
- Loved ones expressing concern.
- Checking peoples’ profiles repeatedly due to anxiety.
- A feeling of lack of connection.
- Working later to complete tasks.
- Accidents or injuries due to phone usage.
- Isolation from loved ones.
- Angry or irritated if phone usage is interrupted.
- Reaching for the phone the moment they are alone or bored.
- Phantom vibrations (thinking the phone vibrates when it doesn’t).
- Limiting phone usage is difficult.
The research adds that no specific amount of messages, time and frequency of sent indicates phone addiction. Yet some combination of the above warning signs indicates an underlying phone addiction.
People with phone addiction have the need to constantly take their phones out of pockets or bags, whether there is an actual notification or not.
The online behaviour of people with phone addiction may include aimlessly moving from one video to another, one game to another, one app to another and, as a result, not keeping track of time spent, missing work or study deadlines, running the risk of losing a loved one, etc. When it is one damage too many, anyone will look to break the cycle of phone addiction.
How to break cell phone addiction?
The simple first step, one can take to break cell phone addiction is to bring as much awareness to the issue as we can — sometimes, being conscious of our issues and tracking our behaviour is the simple and best first step we can take.
According to a study, college students may spend 8-10 hours per day on their cell phones. Tracking our cell phone usage, such as adding up how many times per hour we check our phone, can increase our awareness about our problem. If we are aware of the extent of our problem, we can begin to identify goals and possible solutions.
To begin with, instead of going harsh and completely eliminating cell phone usage (which can be very anxiety-provoking), we can begin by progressively reducing the amount of time we spend checking our phones. For example, we can start by limiting the amount of time we check our phone to once per 30 minutes, then once per 2 hours and so on. We can keep a tally of how many times we check our phone per hour. And to consciously use our phones only for necessary communications or emergencies.
Set aside one day/week
Some hotels follow a menu for each day – Poori on Monday, Pongal on Tuesday, Dosa on Wednesday and so on. Likewise, we can fix a day for no phone usage. It could be – #NoPhoneTuesday or #NoPhoneThursday, for example.
A conscious control upon ourselves where we don’t use our phones for a day. When we are able to do this successfully for one day a week over a period of a few weeks, we can then cut cell phone use out of our life completely for a short period of time, such as a weekend.
We can go on a trip or camping where there will be no signal or service. This forces us to be off of our phones. We can notify our friends and loved ones that we are going off the grid for a short time. This can be easily accomplished on social media.
Delete apps that are not used
Apps for instant messaging, watching videos, posting photos, paying, booking movie tickets, ordering food, interacting socially and tracking our mobile usage. Modern-day life is dominated by Apps. But the truth is – do we need these many apps on our mobile phones.? Does having more Apps give us convenience, or does it complicate things a lot more.? A simple, clear thought would reveal that we need – just one app to do any of the functions listed above. And we can have one app as a backup for each function. All other Apps on our mobile phones can be uninstalled and deleted. A light mobile phone is a positive head start towards freeing ourselves from phone addiction.
Set boundaries for Smart Phone usage
The other assertive step we can take is setting smart phone usage boundaries, like placing it in our study room and using it only when we are there. Also, to always carry a bag where our phone can be placed inside. At the workplace, study place or public places, we can put the phone on silent mode and place it inside the bag. As shared above, the study room or bag are examples of boundaries we set for cell phone usage. This helps us define the space where we would be using our Phones and helps actively limit cell phone usage. It especially allows us to control the mindless usage of cell phones.
Mute group chats and archive inactive chats
A constantly buzzing Phone is the biggest trigger for cell phone Addiction. And instant messaging apps send us a barrage of notifications. The school alumni Whatsapp group or the office team group ensure that our mobiles vibrate and jump every three seconds.
The best step would be to mute all group chats. And to keep only the most important chats on unmute. This gives us control over which chats we want to read, reply and spend time on.
On other occasions, when we have nothing much to do, we tend to mindlessly scroll down and start reading older chats and spend hours and hours nostalgising our past memories from those older chats. An assertive step would be to archive all those old and inactive chats. This helps us prevent any mindless scrolling and reading of older chats. And this shall be another step towards conscious control of our cell phone usage time.
Turn off the phone before going to sleep
Research says we should switch off our cell phones at least 30 minutes before sleep. For people who are used to watching YouTube videos to go to sleep, this may not be easy on day one. The best way to overcome it is to have alternative bedtime activities – like reading a book, meditation or a short walk.
Don’t charge your phone near your bed
One simple life hack that helps us switch off cell phones well ahead of bedtime is to keep the mobile charging point as far away as possible from the bedroom. It will be ideal if the charging point is two rooms away or at least in a room other than the bedroom. This simple physical spacing out of the mobile charging point and the bed we sleep in, implemented consistently on a daily basis, slowly can help us ensure that we are off mobile screens well and truly before our bedtimes.
Use an actual alarm clock
The other measure to control our cell phone time is to use alarm clocks. An alarm starts ringing when we have reached the time limit set for cell phone usage in a day. For example, after 5 hours of cell phone usage, the alarm shall start ringing wherever you are.
We can also allocate time slots where cell phone usage is allowed and other time slots where it is not allowed. For example, 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm on the auto back home can be cell phone time, while during meetings or concentrated sessions at work, cell phones can be a strict no.
These measures of – setting a time limit of cell phone usage in a day, time slots of usage and time slots of no usage – all of them can be documented in the form of simple logs.
Periodic maintenance with a review of these logs and adjustment of our cell phone usage times based on the insights we get from these logs can help us largely keep our cell phone usage times under our control.
Use apps to track usage
Nowadays, there are a lot of tracker apps out there which help us self-monitor our cell phone usage time. Using these Apps, we can set – the number of times per hour or day phone checking is allowed for us. The apps would also enable us to implement the time slots of cell phone usage and no mobile phone usage effectively and sharply.
Turn off notifications
If we realise the primary element by which mobiles seem to take control of our time and lives is—notifications, the tons of notifications. Apps keep throwing every 2 seconds to keep our mobiles vibrating and jumping all the time. A simple step which breaks this cycle is – to go to your mobile phone settings and turn notifications OFF for several apps. Keep notifications ON only for highly essential apps. This gives us back control of our mobiles.
Impact of phone addiction
Research shows that high cell phone usage can cause anxiety and depression. Teenagers with a cell phone addiction problem have a high chance of getting affected by stress and lack of emotional stability.
Although modern life’s biggest technological boon, if overused and abused, mobile phones can ruin our lifestyle, mental and physical well-being, career growth, interpersonal relationships, overall health and happiness.
Humans invented machines so that we can use and control them, not for devices to control us. With mobile phones, it seems like we are its slave, and it’s our masters.
By raising consciousness and awareness of cell phone addiction, by taking conscious steps and actions backing it up with consistent self-monitoring and reviewing, slowly but surely, one fine day, we can get over mobile phone addiction.
That day, we shall get back to experiencing life in its most natural form, which shall help us to be back in touch with our inner natural selves.
How many hours on the phone is addiction?
According to research, it is considered an addiction when a person uses a cell phone for more than three hours.
What are the psychological effects of phone addiction?
The psychological effects of phone addiction include
3. Behavioural and compulsive disorders
Additionally, people may tend to compare themselves with others on social media, which can lead to an inferiority complex and depression.
How do I stop my phone addiction?
1. Use apps to track usage.
2. Set a certain time in the day and have a mobile-free zone.
3. Try not to charge your phone near the bed.