Identifying and breaking your cellphone addiction (and why you should want to)
Are you addicted to using your cellphone? If so, you are not alone. It's estimated that nearly half adults in the country are. While cellphones, smartphones in particular, seem like they are a great invention, they come with a host of problems for the person who can't keep their use to a minimum. We are a nation of people who have become distracted by cellphones. They are out in restaurants, meetings, and more. People are staring at them as they ride their bike, drive their car, and when they are trying to have a conversation with people right in front of them. There are a lot of good reasons to pause and get real about whether or not you have a cellphone addiction and if it's time to do something about it.
Just over a year ago, my husband told me he thought I was addicted to my phone. He pointed out that I'd have it out in the car, in restaurants, in conversation, etc. There was no limit to when and where and how long I would use it. Rather than focus on the people in front of me, I was busy texting, responding to messages, posting on social media, and more. I was a slave to the phone and he was the first to identify it, and thankfully, he brought it to my attention. It wasn't easy for me to hear and at first I wanted to just deny the accusation. I let it sink in for a while and I realized, he was right.
The problem was that I knew how using the cellphone so much impacted people. I have read plenty of information and watched videos about how we are a nation who has more ways to communicate than ever before, yet we are not as good at it anymore. All of the cellphone use has dulled our senses and changed our brains. Literally. And not for the better. When my husband confronted me and opened my eyes to what was going on, I took notice (after letting it sink in for a bit), and I realized I was using my phone around three hours per day. I also read that the average person uses their cellphone for about three hours per day. I was right there. I was average. But that's not good, that's a lot of time to be using the phone each day! Starting in January 2017, I vowed to cut my cellphone usage.
Around March, I found that there are apps that will monitor and track how much you use your phone each day (e.g., Space, Quality Time, etc,). I downloaded one of the apps and let it run quietly in the background for six months. Then I took a look and was still shocked. I was using my phone 2 hours and 15 minutes per day on average. Yes, it had come down from the three hour mark, but quite honestly that is still ridiculous in my opinion. I had to take a good hard look at what I was doing on my phone so much. Low and behold, the majority of my time on my phone was going to social media, specifically to the Volusia County Moms Facebook page. I spent a lot of time each day responding to the many messages that I received, posting questions for people, monitoring threads, etc. (keep in mind I also put additional time into doing that on my desktop). It was at that time that I decided I was going to take my time back. Our time is the most precious thing we have in this life, and I was giving it too freely and spending far too much of it on a Facebook page. Enough was enough. I then announced that I was no longer going to post reader questions on the Facebook page, and I set up an automated response for the incoming messages that included a link to the FAQ page. While it came with a few grumbles from some followers, there were many who supported it. And I'm happy to say that the page still has plenty of traffic, and the website itself was never impacted either way.
The app continued to run in the background since making the decision to manage my time better and help further break the cellphone addiction. I'm happy to say that now my cellphone use is down to about 40 minutes per day. And that time time includes texting, phone calls, taking pictures, uploading my Ibotta receipts, etc. Only 40 minutes! Some days I have half that amount of use. I'm happy with the results and feel I've broken the cellphone addiction. I no longer need to pull it out while my husband is driving, or check it while waiting in a long line somewhere. My goal has been to become more mindful of those and the things around me at the time, rather than at the phone.
If you are not familiar with the reasons why it's a good idea to keep the cellphone check in use, here are some good articles to check out:
- Cellphone addiction review (research study)
- Smartphone addiction could be changing your brain
- Smartphone addiction is killing us
- Teens and smartphone addiction
- How social media affects mental health
There's also a great video that I watched a year ago that really helped put me on the path toward breaking the cellphone addiction. Watch this Simon Sinek video and see what it does to help you make more sense of what it is doing to us to be so dependent on our phones. Also, we are setting the example for the next generation when it comes to using cellphones. Our kids are watching us and they will likely follow in our footsteps when it comes to how they use their phones. Both of my kids have their own phone. At this point they use them very little each day and I hope to help keep it that way.
With the New Year just around the corner, I challenge you to take a look at your cellphone usage. Get real with how much you use it, when you use it, and how much of your time you could take back to give to other things. The first step is being honest with yourself about your usage, and then make a plan to change it. It's taken me the course of a year to get to where I now feel comfortable with where my cellphone usage is at, but I know going forward it's going to be well worth the effort and changes I made to get here. From what it does to personal relationships, your mood (social media has a tendency to bring you down), to impacting your sleep, there are a lot of good reasons to take an honest look to see if it's time to make some changes in the amount of time you spend on your phone. I'm grateful my husband said something to me last year, which made me have to get honest with myself, which lead to some healthy changes. You can and should take back some of that time. Imagine all the things you could use it for... reading, exercise, family time, etc.
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