About a week ago I was offered the opportunity to terminate my phone service (which included unlimited Internet data) to save a few hundred dollars. It’s a long story and I won’t bore you with the details. The point is that my phone service was cancelled for a few weeks.
I figured it would be completely fine to not have any phone service temporarily. How naive of me. I only realized how addicted I was to my smartphone once I couldn’t use it anymore.
Just the other night I was having a glass of wine at home when I decided to head to the gym so I could use their Wi-Fi. Yes, I realize how ridiculous this was, but suddenly I felt the urge to check my e-mails. After all, I hadn’t checked them since I left work two hours before.
Once I got to the gym (and of course I had no interest in working out) I ended up walking on the treadmill (at the slowest possible speed) just so I could read my e-mails. There were no important e-mails, mostly spams, yet I felt so relieved afterwards.
If you think my behaviour was ridiculous (and I do too), you would be surprised to hear I am not alone. Some studies suggest that the average person checks their smartphone 110 times a day, and around nine times an hour at peak times.
Although smartphone addiction is not a medically recognized condition, CNN recently published a column on their website talking about the signs that might suggest a person is addicted to his or her smartphone. One of the signs suggested in the story include letting your lunch get cold so you could answer a query on your smartphone. Other signs include checking your phone to see the current temperature instead of opening a window; When one of your daughter’s first drawings of you has a BlackBerry in your hand; When you drop a phone on your face because you’re dozing off; Or when you are staring at photos you took on your phone while the actual moment is taking place right in front of you.
After reading those signs (and of course I had done eight out of ten) I realized they were funny because they have become so normal.
If you’re feeling hopeless, there are several websites offering tips on how to break the cycle of constantly checking your smartphone.
One of the most useful tips include turning off notifications on your phone. This way you won’t be constantly reminded to check new Facebook messages and e-mails.
Another helpful tip is to uninstall unnecessary apps. Some of the apps on your phone might be the same ones you have on your computer. Maybe you do not need the same apps on both devices.
Another tip is to activate the “airplane mode” on your phone for a few hours a day. This would block SMS messages and oncoming phone calls (this one sounds really difficult to me, but I am willing to give it a try).
The final tip (and maybe the most effective) is to hide your phone so you do not have access to the device at all times (in this case I would certainly need a friend to hide it for me, otherwise it would not work).
There are also apps such as BreakFree that can monitor your phone use, telling you what apps you use the most. This app could even limit your phone use if required to help you control your addiction.
Although I am counting the days to have my phone service back, I am definitely learning with this experience and observing how much time my phone steals from me every day.
My goal is that soon I will be going to the gym to work out, and not to use their Wi-Fi.