If you’re worried about missing a text message on your cell phone or not knowing your friends’ minute-by-minute postings on Facebook or you reach for your phone as soon as you wake up, if might be time for you to admit you’re hooked.
So many of us joke about being unable to be away from our cell phone even for a few minutes, but there are increasingly worrisome revelations about the constant need to be connected.
It might be time to make a choice, for your mental and physical health.
Are you going to take control of your time and attention? Or are you going to continue to let your phone control your life, possibly interrupting the natural healing power of sleep or causing lingering anxiety?
Science journalist Catherine Price captured attention with her 2018 book, How to Break Up with Your Phone:The 30 Day Plan to Take Back Your Life. She suggests that the first step is to become of aware of how and why we are so attached to these hypnotic little miracles of technology. Price reminds us to recognize that phones and apps are designed to be addictive.
The time we spend on our phone “...damages our abilities to focus, think deeply, and form new memories,” says Price.
She doesn’t advise a simple ‘cold turkey’ plan like throwing away your phone. She encourages making your smartphone a positive part of your life instead of an invader with no boundaries.
Price offers guidelines to create a healthy relationship with our phone. Here are a few she suggested in an interview on ‘Here & Now’ on WBUR:
Price is among the growing group of writers, mental health professionals, parents and educators sending up red flags about the increasingly unhealthy dominance of smartphones in our lives.
David Greenfield is a psychologist trained in addiction medicine at the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.
Greenfield classifies this urgent need to be on our cell phones as, “a behavioral addiction, not a substance addiction.” If it interferes with daily life and healthy functioning, the behavioral addiction needs to be addressed.
The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction offers guidance on how to break the cell phone addiction. Here are some of the suggestions.
As with all mental or physical health concerns, seek help from a licensed professional if unhealthy functioning in daily life or other signs of distress are noticed.
Price, Catherine, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” Here and Now, WBUR, March 1, 2018
Roose, Kevin, “Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain,” New York Times, Feb. 23, 2019
Greenfield, David, “Smartphone Compulsion Test,” Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, 2017