If you have a smartphone, chances are you’re both in a very committed relationship to each other.
- The average American checks his phone every 12 minutes.
- Market research shows the average user touches his or her cellphone 2,617 times a day.
This is mostly credited to modern Apps that are built with your psychological needs and reactions in mind. We all know that feeling: you’ve got few minutes spare so you take out your phone to see what’s new. If someone would tell you that you can’t grab your phone to pass the time, a lot of us would feel frustrated. Why is that? Silicon Valley is keen to take advantage of the brain chemical credited with keeping us tapping on apps and social media: Dopamine.
Sean Parker, founding president of Facebook, recently admitted that the social network was founded not to unite us, but to distract us. “The thought process was: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’” Dopamine makes us take actions to meet our desires by anticipating how we will feel after. It’s the feeling that often drives us to addiction.
Dopamine makes you feel gloriously happy. This Dopamine addiction we are all developing without realising is what’s causing that feel of anguish when your phone is out of battery or out of reach. “Nomophobia”, the feeling of panic or stress when separated from one’s phone, according to researchers in Hong Kong and Seoul.
Are we all doomed to look at life through a computer screen?
Stephen Mason, from Psychology today, estimates that perhaps 10%-15% of the population simply don’t know when to stop and would need some kind of outside support to really let go. But don’t worry, there are solutions out there… There are even apps for it!
Believe it or not, there are now apps to help with our phone addiction!
1. Offtime (iOS, Android)
3. BreakFree (iOS, Android)
4. Flipd (iOS, Android)
5. AppDetox (Android)
But what’s wrong with spending all day on a smartphone? According to Jean Twenge, professor of Psychology at San Diego State University and author of iGen, research suggests that spending too much time with mobile devices may shorten our attention spans, enduce anxiety and stress and generally erode our well-being.
What happens when we ditch our phones?
Could you do it? A recent survey showed that 84% of respondents said they couldn’t even give up their smartphone for a day, let alone a week. But what would happen then?
1. You will probably feel alienated, isolated and anguished
Many bloggers, like Michael Grothaus, have tried it and they all felt what they described as a ”withdrawal period”. This period lasts from 3 to 7 days and it was described as a constant anguish at missing out or being cut off from their friends and family.
2. You will become more productive
Many who ditched their smartphone in favour of a limited phone found themselves much more productive. Blogger Antonio Alessandro describes how it played out: ”Now, instead of habitually reaching for my pocket, I have zero interruptions other than important texts or calls. If I want to access Facebook or email, I do so from my own laptop which doesn’t update me constantly and rob my attention”.
3. You will get bored, and that’s a good thing!
Technology doesn’t allow for boredom! There are tons of programmers, behavioural psychologist and engineers that are focusing all their brain power to get your attention, keep you entertained and always online. Boredom is a call to action. This will push you to schedule more time with friends, making plans in real life and maybe, finally do that trip to Iceland!
4. You will have A LOT more time
Kinton J. Green, describes his 9th week of a phone ditching program he followed: ”I lost followers on Instagram, I lost contact with a few online friends and a few long distance relationship friends, and I lost all of my music, games and lyrics I had stored to my phone. But I didn’t care. I realised that, without a phone, I had time.’‘
Although it seems almost impossible today to think of ditching our phones completely, it is important to understand their impact on our mental and physical health. It is hard to let go of such a common and well accepted dependance, but letting go of our phones sometimes will do nothing but good things!