We all have phones, but are we using them too much? Do you find yourself checking your phone and sliding through the pages, but not having a reason as to why you went on your phone in the first place? Do you check your phone when you first wake up and when you first go to sleep? Do you have a mini panic attack when you can’t find your phone? Do you get lost in your phone without realizing the amount of time you have actually wasted? If you said yes to most of these questions, then you’re clearly addicted to your phone. If you really want to see how much time you’ve been spending on your phone go to settings —> battery —> battery usage —> tap the clock on the right and click “Last 7 Days”. Many people call this Nomophobia, or “the disease of the XXI century”. I’m guessing you didn’t start reading this article unless you actually wanted to end your strong attachment to this inanimate object. So why are you addicted to your phone in the first place?
Dopamine is a huge factor in phone addiction. It is a neurotransmitter in your brain. Dopamine affects pleasure and plays a role in mental health by making you happy. We receive a positive reward in the form of pleasure from Dopamine. No matter if it’s a message from a loved one, a like on Facebook, or a new follower on Instagram, this neurotransmitter is released. You feel good about yourself when you get a notification, or a buzz on your phone, which makes you want to keep checking your phone in the hopes that you’ll receive more alerts. This same neurotransmitter is released in the addictions of gambling, and many drugs: nicotine, cocaine, etc. How do we end this loop of addiction? Here are 5 steps that will help lessen the addiction you have to your phone. However, don’t follow all of these steps at once, or else you’ll feel an urge to instantly go back to your old habits.
1) Shut off all notifications to social media
Go to Settings —> Notifications —> Shut off your notifications for all apps (You should keep text and phone call notifications on just in case there is an emergency).
Turning off these notifications will help eliminate the release of Dopamine. You won’t have notifications pop up when you check your phone, which will result in a less likely chance of you opening up that application.
2) Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock
Instead of using your phone as an alarm clock, invest in a real alarm clock. Using your phone to wake you up will result in you wanting to check all of your social media applications. If you use a real alarm clock, you can put your phone on the other side of the room or even in another room (crazy, I know) when you’re sleeping. When we do check social media and our notifications in the morning, our brain perceives it as all of the things we have missed because we were sleeping. When you wake up in the morning, you should get out of bed and start your day without your phone. The notifications will still be there later.
3) Have a designated area for your phone
Instead of taking your phone everywhere with you, have a designated area for it. Many people’s phones travel with them. Going downstairs to eat dinner? Leave your phone in your room. Leaving your phone in one designated spot will result in it not following you around. This strategy enables people to disrupt how likely they are to grab their phone and start checking it.
4) Make your phone less desirable to look at
Go to Settings —> General Settings —> Accessibility —> Turn on the Grayscale option
Turning on Grayscale will make some apps on your phone come off as unappealing. This will result in you not spending as much time as you would on your phone if it was in color.
5) Track your smartphone habits
If you really want to monitor your iPhone usage, you could download apps that will help keep you off of your phone: Unplugged, Quality Time, or Moment. For example, the application “Unplugged” keeps track of the longest period of time you’ve gone without being on your phone. If you try going on your phone while the app is on, a notification will appear on your screen asking if you’re sure you want to use your phone.
Your phone is taking valuable time out of your day. If you minimise the time on your phone, you may not complain anymore that you have no more time in the day to complete that last assignment. You don’t need to completely eliminate your phone from your everyday life, but by decreasing your usage a little bit more each day, you may come to the conclusion that your phone has been taking out more time of your day than you’ve ever imagined.