Do you spend so much time scrolling your phone that you think you might possibly have a smartphone addiction? You’re not alone. *waves hand in air*. Here are some tips I’m practising for a digital detox!
I’m the first to admit that I’m addicted to my phone. And over the years I have had EVERY excuse under the sun to justify the desire (rarely need) to be on my phone (I work online! I shop online! I’m checking the weather!). But ugh, the guilt of the time wasted over the years sits like an ever-constant knot in my stomach.
The cold hard truth of smartphone addiction
We’re not alone in having an unhealthy relationship with our smartphone. Be it boredom, the fear of missing out (FOMO), the need to know EVERYTHING and “I’ll just Google it…” all leads to a murky relationship with a smartphone, where moderation is thrown out the window.
Tech Guide reports:
“On average smartphone users checks their phone more than 60 times per day with 87 per cent checking right until they go to bed and 69 per cent within five minutes of waking up.”
Gulp. Yep. TikTok videos at 10PM and the news highlights at 7AM? Guilty as charged.
Be honest, do you also use your phone excessively? Apple offers screen time tracking now on their devices which can be helpful if you’re curious about your time spent online, as well as a complete eye-opener.
But to be frankly honest, I’ve never tracked my time online because I know 1) I’m scared of the result, 2) putting a number to my perceived addiction would make it very much real and 3) THE HORROR.
Nonetheless, I digress. HELP – you want it? Me too. Here are 11 excellent tips to help wean ourselves from a smartphone.
Help You Break Up With Your Phone
1. Social media is a time trap
This is a hard pill to swallow. 2020 was VERY hard socially, so many of us turned to our social media feeds to stay connected with friends, family and let’s be honest, thousands of strangers for hours on end. Which was great at the time.
But now what?
Delete the apps from your phone, hard as it is. If you want to connect on Facebook, you have to boot up your computer – and who has the time to do that constantly?! #RIPOFFTHEBANDAID Better yet, meet mates in real life!
2. Purposefully leave your phone behind
Heading out for a walk or a quick run to the shops? Ask yourself, do you REALLY need your phone? Probably not. There used to be a time when we left the house with just our wallet and keys. Let’s try doing that again.
3. Buy an alarm clock
If you need an alarm to get up in the morning, buy a classic alarm clock just like the old days.
REMOVE your phone from being next to the bed so it’s not the thing you reach for first thing in the morning (or in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep).
4. Do not disturb – seriously, don’t.
You don’t need to be available on the internet or a telephone line around the clock. You really don’t. Hit the ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode in your settings and enjoy the blissful silence. If someone rings, they’ll leave a message if it’s important. They always do!
5. Practice trial separations
So long my friend, farewell. Kind of. Many of us are guilty of using our phones while we commute or wait. KEEP IT IN YOUR BAG. Skip checking your email and stare out the window or read a book instead. So refreshing!
6. Disable notifications
Ding! Email inbox. Ding! Messenger alert. Ding! Instagram DM. Ding! Step tracker. Do you hear phantom dings? Disable your app notifications. If you can’t go cold turkey, limit notifications to text messages, phone calls and your calendar – and enjoy your newfound ding!-free freedom.
7. No phones at the table
Make it a blanket rule for not only yourself but for your family, that there are to be no phones at the table. That goes for both using them and sitting them on the table. Talk to each other without distraction. Amazing!
8. Set self-imposed limits
Just like you do with the kids, cut yourself off of using your smartphone after a certain time.
For our kids, there are no screens after 8:30pm – they need to hand them up to a central charging station until the next day. AND NOW YOU CAN TOO. It’s an excellent way to begin to wean yourself.
9. Make accessing your phone a challenge
Create barriers to physically accessing your phone.
Crazy as it sounds, it gives you just enough time (even 15 seconds is enough time) to rethink if you really need to use your phone. Disable face recognition and use a new password, put your phone in a case back to front or put a couple of scrunchies around it – any and all of those are great phone procrastination ideas.
10. Track all the things you now have time for
You’re going to have a whole heap of new-found time now that you’re not on your phone, right? Keep a list of things you got done in a day to keep you motivated. List makers, unite!
11. Use technology to protect you from yourself
Ultimately, it’s you and a lack of iron-clad willpower you need to protect yourself from when breaking up with your phone. In an ironic twist, time-tracking phone apps can help limit screen time and even block access to certain apps!
Phone addiction is a thing, folks, for both young and old. And we absolutely must be good role models for our kids. We can’t be telling them off for sitting in front of a screen while we scroll Aunt Margaret’s holiday photos from 2019.
Join me in taking your life back, one deserted app at a time in a digital detox, ultimately establishing a healthier relationship with your smartphone. Let me know what tip you’ll be trying first in the comments!
For more help
Unlike many ‘mainstream’ addictions, digital or smartphone addiction doesn’t have much of a publicised helpline, which can make us feel a little ridiculous and helpless in our digital struggle. This is surprising considering we have SO many children of all ages, sitting in front of screens day in, day out.
Smart Recovery Australia offers online addiction support meetings if you feel you need professional help.