Smartphones are the most accessible technology, but the addiction is real & negative imapct on family is undeniable. How to break your smartphone addiction. If you look at your phone more times than you want to admit to another living soul, or find your children catching you scrolling through Facebook 13 times a day, then it might be time to break up with your phone. How to break up with your phone and cut your smartphone addiction.
Do You have a Smartphone Addiction?
The other night, I plopped down on the couch after putting the kids to bed and immediately began mindlessly scrolling through my phone.I rechecked my email several times as if some new urgent piece of news was going to suddenly appear, went though every social media app, and then looked at pictures.
It wasn’t until 45 minutes later, after completely getting sucked into my phone, I turned the thing off and put it face down beside me.
If I’m being honest, I’m totally sick of my phone. Most of all, I’m tired of the wedge I’ve allowed it to create in keeping from staying connecting with my kids. My phone is far less important, yet, it steals my attention and mental bandwidth from my kids and husband all the time.
I read a study recently which said the average person, checks their phone 150 times a day. 150 Times!!! I thought there was no way that number was accurate, so I did a little experiment last week that I’m embarrassed to tell you about.
I took out a sticky note and wrote a tally mark each time I picked up my phone whether it was for social media, for work, to reply to emails, take a picture, turn on music or use one of my fitness or budget tracking apps.
Turns out, like most published studies… there’s this little thing called accuracy. Ugh. Those darn academic studies.
I’m really (really) embarrassed to tell you this… but from 5:01am until 10:36pm while I was awake, I punched in the passcode on my phone a whopping 91 times.
I was really hesitant to write that number down, but I know my friends who struggle with this too and I want to be honest.
Yes, I take a ton of pictures of my kids every day.
Yes, I use my phone mostly for work.
Yes, I answer the majority of my emails on my phone.
Yes, I listen to music all day long.
But 91 times in one day… I am sick to my stomach.
(I highly recommend doing this experiment at home too, just to see where your habits stand. It was earth shattering for me, and I’m super motivated to change now more than ever.)
The Worst Part about Technology Addiction?
As I was jotting down tally marks during the day, I began to notice something.
They were checking in with me for help, to play with them, to respond to a question, or help with a task… and they were seeing me on my phone constantly. Instead of my attention being focused on them, my eyes were glued to my phone and NOT them.
I like to listen to podcasts when I’m in the car and ironically, the one I chose yesterday was about productivity, and forming good habits to break bad habits.
The part that struck me since I had just finished this humbling experiment out my phone usage, was how to break bad habits by intentionally putting friction between yourself and the bad habit.
Related Articles on the Topic of Smartphone Addiction
- Smartphone Addiction (Psychology Today)
- Smartphone Addiction Could Be Changing Your Brain (CNN)
- “Irresistible By Design: It’s No Accident You Can’t Stop Looking At Your Phone (NPR)
The Friction Trick Holds the Key to Breaking Up With Your Phone
What friction is in this case, are extra steps you create to reach or initiate, the bad habit (accessing apps on your phone, etc.)
(You can apply this to any habits you have that you want to break, but the point is to make it harder to reach the bad habit by purposely putting up road blocks.)
If you want to break the bad habit of getting on your phone like I do, listen up because this is the good stuff that can help you detox from your smartphone addiction:
- Put all your social media apps on the third or fourth page of your screen so you have to scroll to go to them. “Out of sight, out of mind” actually makes them less enticing to open when they aren’t front and center on your home screen.
- Delete the app after each time you use it. For example, after you close Facebook… delete the app from your phone. The extra work you have to do to download the app again, enter your username and password is a real pain and may make you think twice about scrolling through your feed for a while. This sounds crazy, but trust me, the extra 5 minutes to do all these steps to get the app back on my phone make me not want to log on at all.
- Have someone you trust, change your password on your apps/accounts from Monday morning until Friday evening so you can’t access them (or whatever days and time you agree to.) You can also do this from something like 8am – 8pm or the times when your kids aren’t awake or you’re at work.
- Remove the time suck apps from your phone all together. If you easily get lost on Instagram or Snapchat, get rid of the app from your phone or close the account all together.
- Turn off alerts and notifications for all social media apps and even email. Hearing a ping every few minutes makes you feel like there are cool things happening on social media you don’t want to miss out on. FOMO much? Chances are, these alerts aren’t life shattering or even worth your time… but they effectively eat up 15 minutes of scrolling your feed every time you check them. Total waste, right?
- Scared of leaving your phone completely? Turn it to airplane mode where you basically only have the camera and clock available. No notifications, no incoming texts or data!
Do you have any other helpful tips you can recommend for stepping away from electronics or breaking bad habits, in general?
Thanks for this, Corinne! A year ago, I permanently deleted my Instagram and Facebook accounts, and removed the Gmail app from my phone. Those things have been a game changer! After a season of social media detox, I don’t even miss it anymore. The thing that’s most freeing is not analyzing all the different experiences of my day into an IG post. I had no idea how much I did that in my head.
I wanted to add that my husband and I have a designated shelf in our living room for phones and they stay there, which is helpful. Like you mentioned, recently I’ve also started putting my phone on airplane mode for several hours at a time when my kids are awake.
It sounds crazy to go to all these drastic measures, but like you shared, checking my phone began to feel like a compulsion and I hated it. Thanks for the encouragement!
What a great suggestion! I don’t have a smartphone but, I was just reading the other day that in Germany the drownings were up this summer, a lot, of children in pools because their parents were on their phones.
This is a timely reminder for me! I need to unplug. 🙂 Right after I write this comment. Thanks for this.