Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?
Realistically, how long can you go without checking your phone for emails, texts, or social media updates? Are you able to read an entire article on the web, or do you cruise through it, skimming the surface of it, only to leave it for the next notification that pops up? How much of this multi-tasking are you engaging in on a daily basis? Are you addicted to your smartphone?
Smartphone Addiction is Real
So real in fact, that Smartphone users suffer from increased anxiety levels when they’re not checking their phone. This tiny little gadget that we use to feel more connected to our friends and family, is actually causing excess stress and anxiety instead. How you ask? Through a compulsive need to check in, update social media, text, and “like” everything. Yes, it is a compulsion. So much so that people are even walking and texting and getting hurt because they are not paying attention to what is going on around them.
Are You Being a Lazy Friend?
Social media is great. Technically, we are more connected because of it. The downside is that we are allowing ourselves to substitute real face to face interactions with status updates and private messages. We are becoming lazy friends. Even worse, we are airing our relationship laundry for the entire world to see, stains and all. It has become easier to talk to someone over the internet than it is in person.
Smartphone addiction did not happen overnight, so stopping this compulsive need to check in cold turkey is not going to work. Think about the times you might have accidently left your phone at home on a quick trip to the store. How did you feel when you realized you had left it behind? Did you feel anxious to get back home to it? If the answer is yes, please understand that this is not healthy!
The Smartphone Detox
So let’s plan a detox. Before we begin though, for some people, social media and email are a part of their job requirements. These steps to detox are meant only for personal emails and social media. Anything business related must be excluded from your detox. Those are work requirements and well, you need your job.
The goal is to detox slowly, but surely, over the course of 6 weeks—this is a rough estimate as everyone is different. I wouldn’t allow it to extend over 6 weeks though. Any longer than that might just be you stringing it out as long as you can without making progress.
Here’s how to detox from your Smartphone addiction in 5 steps:
Step 1. Find a detox buddy.
This will be a person that commits to Smartphone detox with you. This person will follow the same scheduled detox as you do. If you feel the compulsion to stray off your detox plan, you will pick up the phone and call this person (Yes, call. No texting, no emailing, no private messaging, talking only!) and engage in an actual conversation with them, or make plans to meet for lunch or a walk, something that the two of you enjoy. Your detox buddy will do the same with you if they feel the compulsion to use. Your detox buddy will be with you through every step of this process, as you will with them.
Step 2. Reset all of your sync schedules.
For the first day, reset all of your sync schedules for emails and social media from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Next, only check your phone when a notification comes in. This will feel like the longest 30 minute segments of your life. (I’ve done this and it was agonizing. I would recommend starting your detox on a non-workday.) When you have gone an entire week only checking your phone every 30 minutes you are ready to move on to syncing every hour. Follow this progression of time until you have a sync schedule that is at least 2 hours apart.
Step 3. Delete social media apps.
This one is not easy. Delete your social media apps. This does not mean that you are deactivating your social media profiles. However, there is a time and a place for it, and eating dinner with your family while everyone is hunched over their phone, unengaged with each other is not the right time. You can do this in steps if you want to. Delete one app every few days.
Step 4. Schedule your social media time.
Since your social media apps will now be off of your hand held gadgets, you will have to sit down at a computer and check in the old fashioned way. Make “social media time” a reward or something to look forward to. Maybe it could be after the kids have gone to bed, or during one of your work breaks. Whatever you decide, stick to the schedule no matter what.
Step 5. Stop Texting.
This is the final step and it’s the most rewarding. Stop texting. When you feel the urge to send a random “hi” to a friend to engage in a text conversation, stop, and call them instead. Maybe even go see them. Communicate like you used to before Smartphones took over. Spend time with people. Laugh and be silly and give them random hugs and tell them you love them. Spend time with your kids and be present in the momeny. Nothing takes the place of human interaction.
Life is too short to type out a few words and think that is enough to maintain a connection. It isn’t.
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