While it has not yet been listed as an official mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, Digital Addiction is now under review as “recommending further research” to fully understand how it effects our lives.
A behavioral addiction, just like gambling, shopping, porn, etc., our addiction to our smartphones and internet can have a serious impact on our mental (and physical) wellbeing. Constantly checking our smartphones can make you more anxious, unproductive and increase feelings of discontentment in life.
So what should you do? As with any bad behavior, you try to reduce your dependence on it. As smartphones have become an important part of our modern life, this can be a difficult task.
Here are 7 ideas on how to reduce your smartphone use:
- Set It Down – If you don’t need your phone with you, just set it down. Put it across the room from you, or the next room over. A lot of our smartphone usage is a byproduct of it always being in our hands or pockets.
- Remove Addictive Apps – Developers of phone apps know how to make you, the consumer, spend more time on them. They create addictive feeds with curated content. By removing addictive apps (think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit), you can drastically reduce screen time.
- Reduce Notifications – The more alerts that your phone gives you, the more often you’ll be checking your phone. Both Android and iOS have easy ways to reduce the number of notifications you get. I personally only get notifications for phone calls and text messages.
- Use Screen Time Limits – If you don’t want to cut yourself off of addictive apps altogether, you can use screen time limiters. Set a limit, maybe 30 minutes a day, for how much time you can spend on certain apps.
- Break the “Checking” Habit – Are you one of those people that “check” their phone out of boredom? It’s a bad habit that can turn a little bit of downtime into a long session of scrolling through various feeds. Recognize and break your habit of the “check” of your phone.
- Upgrade Less Often – One of my most popular posts is on the marginal utility of upgrading your smartphone. Which I need to update, as the price of new phones has gone up (thanks Apple). Upgrading your phone less often saves you money, as well as makes you less excited about that shiny thing in your pocket.
- Communicate Better – Instead of using digital apps to do all of your communication with friends and family, try to communicate better. Call people. Plan to meet up. Tell stories in person. If you avoid using messaging/social media apps for communicating, you’ll be far less active on your phone.