Our dependence on smartphones happened quickly.
Smartphone technology was invented in the early 1990s with the first iPhone being released in 2007, the first Android in 2008. In 2010, 35% of Americans owned a smartphone, according to Pew Research. Over the next 11 years that percentage would rise to 85%.
However, to say that your smartphone use is an “addiction” may seem a bit dramatic. Especially since you probably use your iPhone or Android just as much as your friends and family.
Catherine Price, author of “How to Break Up Your Phone,” writes in her book that the pervasiveness of these behaviors is exactly why they need to be examined.
“Just because these behaviors and feelings are so universal doesn’t mean they’re harmless,” Price writes. “Instead, it’s an indication that the problem may be bigger than we think.”
If you want to find out if your phone use could be classified as an addiction, there’s a quick survey you can take, which Price includes in his book, that will tell you: the smartphone duress test.
The smartphone compulsion test was developed by David Greenfield, who is the founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.
It consists of 15 yes or no questions such as “Do you feel reluctant to be without your cell phone or smartphone, even for a short time?” and “When you eat, is your cell phone or smartphone always part of the table setting?”
The more yes answers you give, the more likely it is that your behavior is compulsive. If you answer “yes” to more than five questions, Greenfield classifies your smartphone use as “problem.”
Price notes that you might be alarmed by your own results: “The only way to score less than 5 on this test is to not have a smartphone,” he writes.
Let’s say you get more than a five, is it that bad? According to science, yes.
The average American now spends nearly four and a half hours per day on their smartphone, according to recent data from Reviews.org.
This has drastically changed the way we relate to each other and to ourselves. The presence of a smartphone can actually reduce the quality of our in-person conversations with others. And the extensive use of social networks can lead to an increase feelings of isolation.
If you want to “break away from your phone,” Price outlines a four-week plan that can help you reduce:
- Week 1, technological classification: During this week, you’ll download and start using tracking apps that will tell you exactly how much time you spend on your phone. It will also remove some of the more addictive features, like social media, and create a physical barrier to keep you from reaching for your phone as often.
- Week 2, changing your habits: After evaluating the problem, you can start to change your behavior. Change where you charge your phone, set an app blocker. This can help you cut down on screen time when being on your iPhone frequently still feels so natural.
- Week 3, recovering your brain: Price suggests a series of exercises that can help you feel less anxious without your phone. He starts to meditate. Swap the time you could have been on your phone with other activities, like listening to music (even if it’s playing on your phone, you don’t have to be actively looking at the screen).
- Week 4, your new relationship and beyond: Finally, decide how you want to use your phone. Maybe you want to listen to podcasts but don’t want to scroll through Tik Tok. Remove apps and sign in with as you’re checking your phone, accordingly.
Hopefully this cleanse will help you set healthy boundaries with your smartphone and improve the quality of your in-person relationships.
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