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If you don’t think you’re addicted to your phone. Think again.
In 2021, the average adult in the United States admitted to being on their phone for five to six hours a day, not counting work-related stuff.
That’s a brutality of time spent scrolling through trivial cat memes and looking at your ex-wife’s new house.
Experts say that more than two hours of screen time a day is harmful, yet our society keeps pushing toward a model where smartphones and apps are not only a necessity but a requirement to operate in daily life.
Ethically questionable companies continue to profit from our screen time as we get dumber, more dependent, and less sovereign.
We dive into this make-believe world willingly to get away from our real lives.
Sure, I have met some incredible people and I love the online communities that I am a part of. I’ve gotten several incredible job opportunities through social media that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Yet I think that 80 percent of the content I consumed online is meaningless and doesn’t add any value to my life.
At the beginning of 2020, when we were all locked up in our homes trying to figure it all out, I began to observe certain patterns and habits that were no longer feeling aligned. I wanted to spend less time staring at the metaverse and more time living in my body, in my experience, in my skin. It was time to set some boundaries so I could do more of the things that make my soul sparkle instead of fueling the insatiable consumeristic and capitalistic engines.
Sure, it would be great to find a way to stop depending on my smartphone altogether, but realistically, all I can truly do is to put systems in place that remind me to engage with the virtual world mindfully and deliberately only when I choose to.
For me, it was social apps—Instagram specifically, but I spent plenty of gratuitous time on Facebook, Twitter, and even TikTok at times looking at pretty pictures of pretty people doing pretty things.
Perhaps it’s the same for you, or it may be mindless game apps, or checking your news feeds constantly to make sure you don’t miss out.
1. Filter out the noise
I’ve decided I’m not available 24/7, so I refuse to partake in the culture that replies to emails and messages instantly. I can be fiery and impulsive at times, and I have learned that in order to not react but respond, I need buffer time.
Having your phone on you day and night notifying you of all the things that are happening, the things coming up, and the things you’re missing out on is unhealthy. Our attention spans are getting shorter, and unsurprisingly, stress levels keep going up. We are pulled in so many directions.
Zoom Meeting at 8:00.
“But I haven’t even had breakfast…”
Are you joining the meeting? I can resend the link.
“I should go buy dog food…”
Your package will be delivered today.
“I wonder what I ordered this time…”
Alicia Keys liked your reel.
How the hell are we meant to be productive, creative, and engaged with our lives when we carry around a device that will pull us out with a *DING* at every breath?
Here’s a solution: turn that sucker off. No more *DINGS*. Keep your phone on silent unless you’re expecting an important call.
Remove all notifications from apps. If you have to make an effort to open the application every time you want to see who liked your new post, I guarantee you’ll do it less and less over time.
I see messages when I see them. I message people back when it feels like I have time to think about a meaningful reply. I call people back when I actually have the time and the right energy to connect.
Seeking meaningful interaction and reducing impulsive communication has been a huge help in detaching from the addiction.
2. Monitor Yourself: stay accountable
I found this phone usage monitoring app that truly opened my eyes. Having to see how much time I was wasting every single day was almost embarrassing.
I am a creative person: I like to write, sing, and frolic around. Why was I choosing to stay glued to a screen during my leisure time?
There is a great variety of these apps out there, from basic stats to the ability to lock certain apps after you’ve exceeded your allowed screen time. Many of these also offer little challenges to keep it light and playful while improving your mental health and your life.
3. Detach a little
I have never had a television in my bedroom, yet I slept with my phone near me every night for years once it became my alarm clock. My evening ritual turned into yet more screen time, spending my last waking moments before I sleep staring at the phone, and grabbing it again as soon as my eyes fluttered open at dawn.
If I wanted to start my day with mindfulness, journaling, and intention, looking at my phone first thing after waking up was not the way to go. Whatever DMs, memes, and time-sensitive emails are in my inbox, they all can wait half an hour.
I tried to consciously make the choice to not touch my phone first thing in the morning while still using my phone as my alarm and I failed every single time. I found myself wanting to take a quick peek, and next thing I knew, my extra 30 minutes of morning ritual and self-care would be spent scrolling through Instagram.
I promptly made the decision to make my bedroom a phone-free zone at night and get an old school alarm clock. Simple as that.
It worked for me, so try it out.
Let me tell you about my favourite tool that I have found: #sundaysoffsocialmedia. What else could I do with all that time I was spending on my phone if I took one day off from it all?
On Saturday night, right before my evening ritual, I remove all the social apps from my phone and do not reinstall them until Monday morning.
You can do the same by simply moving those apps away from the home screen, or locking them with your usage app, yet removing them all together makes a stronger point.
Sunday is what works for my schedule. But you can choose any day you want. Just have discernment on which day you choose so it doesn’t just become another layer of stress in your life and conflicts with your work or family demands.
Taking one day off of social media or news apps or phone games can be the key to recovering your free time.
I have started to play ukulele, write a novel, and I even have time to work on my first fiction novel and cook a nice supper for me and my family.
Instead of giving away your time, wasting your attention and energy obtusely, and consuming content that is tailored to draw you deeper into the rabbit hole, you’ll learn to choose when to engage and when to withdraw.
The key is to understand that this is a game of perpetual trial and error, of detoxing and feeling free of the matrix for two days, and then getting trapped again and having to climb back out. It’s a balance.
I have found these four techniques work for me because I am not expecting them to break the addiction per se but to provide me with enough awareness to make conscious choices and only use these platforms intentionally—to waste time scrolling if I feel like it, yet being able to disconnect and get back to the present moment whenever I want to.
Phone addiction affects us all directly or indirectly, and the systems in place to perpetuate these states of low vibration and consciousness are well engrained and hard to discern at times. But consider the myriad of possibilities before you with five or six more hours of awareness every day.
Make a list of the things that bring you joy that you want to do and let your imagination run wild.
Happy living in the present to you, all.