Addicted to Your Smartphone? What Can You Do?

Smartphone

Susan Davis, writer for WebMd, reported thoroughly on several studies done on smartphone use and their negative ability to distract us, prevent us from concentrating on simple tasks, and even how they can interrupt business collaboration and personal relationships.

David Greenfield, PhD, author and psychologist explained that while we’re not seeing actual smartphone addiction now, “the potential is certainly there.” He talked about how satisfying it is to receive an email or a text and how alerts like these trigger the reward center in our brain. “We’re seeking that pleasurable hit.”

A 2011 study found that people aren’t addicted to the devices themselves, but more so to the habit of checking them, the creation of a thoughtless compulsion for distraction. Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, explained that smartphones have created an environment of distractions, of “constant interruptions.” The smartphone robs us of our potential to engage in reflection, contemplation, and awareness of our own thoughts.

Carr stated, “One thing my research made clear is that human beings have a deep, primitive desire to know everything that’s going on around them,” making it even harder to resist checking for constant updates. People can’t stand the idea of not knowing about the latest piece of information being spread though social media.

According to experts on the effects of smartphones, the three steps below are highly suggested for those of us who need our phones, but don’t want them taking over our lives.

Be conscious of the situations and the emotions that make you think of checking your phone. Be aware of your mental state in general when you’re triggered to reach for your device. Is it loneliness? Perhaps it’s simply boredom. What about anxiety? Maybe there’s another option for soothing these uncomfortable feelings.

Be strong when you hear a notification alert. No one is making you answer it, no one is pressuring you to answer or find out who texted you except yourself. Try turning your phone on silent for a few hours each day.

Be disciplined about when you use your device. Are certain situations more appropriate than others? If you’re spending time with your family, turn your phone on silent; if you’re in a work meeting, turn your phone on silent and so on and so forth. You can be in control of your attention.

Susan Davis, writer for WebMd, reported on her own experience of weaning herself away from smartphone addiction. She began by checking her phone every fifteen minutes, to leaving more time in between like thirty minutes, then sixty minutes, unless she had to deal with an urgent situation. She chose to avoid using her web browser on her phone altogether unless it was truly necessary and made a commitment to no texting, emailing, or surfing the web while behind the wheel.

Davis found that after a few days of these self-disciplinary practices, she found that she could concentrate better, was more aware of her surroundings, and even reported feeling more relaxed. Now wouldn’t it feel better to be more in control of your attentive impulses? Of your ability to concentrate and complete tasks more efficiently? Now it’s your turn to try it.

 

Make sure to consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for all health related advice.

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Image: Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Jon Fingas

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