Are you a smartphone zombie? Are you addicted to surfing on your phone apps to fill the gaps in your day? Do you grip your phone in one hand whether you are walking, eating, commuting, resting and unconsciously glance at your phone without thinking? Do you find yourself gazing at stories on aggregated news sites about people or places you don’t know and that you aren’t really interested in?
If so, you quite likely have an addiction to your phone. However you aren’t alone – there are many many smartphone zombies out there.
Joanne Orlando, a researcher in technology and learning at Western Sydney University explains that excessive unproductive smartphone use can have negative mental and socio-emotional implications for young people and adults. For example it can contribute to reduced mental well-being and sleep disturbances.
Ensuring that screen time is useful and not excessive is important for both adults and children.
She suggests a four-step plan to breaking your addiction;
Step 1: Map your use
Use the screentime features to examine how you use technology during the day, and over a week.
Identify the aspect of your zombie use that you want to change. This may be for example:
- reduce the number of minutes/hours you spend using a particular social media platform, or watching YouTube
- reduce how many times a day you pick up your phone.
Step 2: Identify your triggers
Identify what triggers the aspect of technology use you want to change.
For example, if you want to reduce how many times a day that you pick up your phone then look for the time of day you have most pick-ups, or if there are particular days in the week where your pick up tends to be higher.
Do your high use times coincide with another activity — perhaps sitting on the bus, or taking children to sports training?
Step 3: Make a plan
Use this information to develop a plan.
Planning ahead may include setting specific times when you will or won’t use your device in particular ways. It may involve making sure you have other options to avoid boredom, such as having a book with you when you’re travelling or waiting for family members.
A plan is important, as it facilitates goal attainment and also increases self-control. Try the plan for one day.
Step 4: Reflect on your plan
After one day or week of using the plan, ask yourself key questions:
- did you accomplish your plan?
- under what conditions did your plan work best?
- were you distracted from your plan and how did get back onto it?
- was your plan do-able? (for example, a plan to reduce the number of times you picked up your phone from 100 per day to 20 may be too difficult to achieve in a first instance)
- do you need to adjust your plan so that it is achievable?
You can use the new activity-monitoring tools to review and revise your plan, and to assist you in achieving your goals, such as setting limits for how much time you allow yourself to use particular apps.
This four-part plan was part of an interesting expanded article that first appeared on The Conversation.