11 powerful strategies to get rid of phone addiction
- Dealing with addiction
- Protecting your child
- Phone addiction statistics
- Reasons of phone addiction
- Addiction and its effect on our life
- Screen time addiction checklist
Despite all the advantages of technology, your smartphone shouldn’t be your only friend and conversation partner in this world. Phone addiction is a kind of addiction similar to alcoholism, drug addiction, and gambling. Of course, it won’t injure your health like alcohol but its “toxicity” affects human consciousness and relations with the world. Some effective strategies will help you and your child to break free from phone addiction.
1. Do not do everything on one device. A smartphone can replace today’s books, newspapers, magazines, MP3 player, camera, TV, game console, computer, and many other useful things. Plus, it gives you broader opportunities that the previous generations didn’t have. But it doesn’t mean that we have to let it replace everything.
2. When you switch between different activities it is good both for your brain and body. This approach makes your life more versatile. And you will be not that much addicted to one device because your likes and feelings will be shared between many different things. Family dinner or an important meeting is not the best place for you to use your smartphone.
3. Limit your screen time. Installing parental control app on your device will be a great support for this. If you feel like you might be addicted to your phone, parental control will be of great help for you to become more self-disciplined and self-controlled in this area.
4. Disable notifications. You just reach out your smartphone to check another notification and it turns into half-hour scrolling of news feed. Are you familiar with that? That’s because alerts are addictive and you even don’t notice how you’re drawn to them. If you turn the notifications off, you won’t have a temptation to check another notice. In case you’re afraid to miss something important, start with turning the sound off.
5. Establish phone-free periods each day. Let’s be honest, we don’t need the phone around all the time. So why not to get rid of the device during dinner, while watching a film or talking to your family. Schedule your phone use and arrange phone-free periods. Put the phone off when you’re busy with something else. For instance, you may not check the phone while making dinner in the afternoon or spending time with your family in the afternoon. This easy trick will reduce distraction and you’ll see how quickly you become less addicted to your phone.
6. Put it away. If you don’t have physical access to your smartphone right away, you’re less likely to check it every single minute. So put it on mute, hide it in a drawer, and see how it works. You’ll make sure this advice helps to concentrate on work and to avoid distractions. Out of sight, out of mind.
7. Lock it. There are certain apps (Kidslox is one of them) that allow locking your device. You can either schedule the time when the phone will be locked or the device will be shut down after you run out of your daily limit of screen time. The software is more appropriate for kids, still, adults can effectively use it to lick the habit.
8. Keep it away from the bedroom. The phone next to your bed means it’s within touching distance so you’re likely to check it before sleep or as soon as you get up. Researchers claim that using mobile devices before sleep activates the nervous system that keeps us up. So putting your gadget away will not only help you to become less addicted to your phone but also promote quick falling asleep and easy waking up in the morning.
9. Replace the bad habit. When you’re bored and want to kill the time, why not to grab a book instead of your phone? Psychologists advise replacing a bad habit of constant phone checking with a good one. So now when you stand in the queue or have some spare minute, feel free to read a few pages of your favorite author instead of scrolling news feed on your smartphone.
10. Get real. Instead of interacting with your nearest and dearest over the phone or on social media, find time for face-to-face meetings. Try to communicate with real people, not virtual friends and acquaintances. Meet people in real life, share real emotions and conversations. It’s really great!
11. Change thinking. Change of thoughts will refresh your emotions and influence your attitude towards cell phone use. Mind that whatever you’re going to check on the phone is not so essential as it may seem. Whenever you’re tempted to text or read the news feed, ask yourself if this is urgent or can be put off.
Remember that the addiction takes place when there are problems in your life. If you live a full life, if you have proper ways to overcome difficulties like communication with your nearest and dearest, you’re less likely to develop an addiction. So the lasting fix to become less addicted to your phone is not about the phone itself. It is more about the change of the priorities and dedicating more time to people around you.
How to help your child deal with smartphone addiction?
As a parent, I know for myself how much easier it is to let my kids play on the devices than take them out to the park to play on the swings. Yet you still struggle sometimes to get the kids outside. Once the kids are outside they have a great time and come back more content and settled, whereas an afternoon on devices often leads to petty arguments and grumpiness. The hardest thing is prising them off their devices to get them out in the first place.
Creating a more balanced attitude toward technology in your home won’t happen overnight, but there are a number of clear strategies that you can take to help manage the situation.
Explain – It may seem obvious to you that your teen’s excessive phone use is disruptive and is becoming a problem, but they might not see it that way. Make sure you talk with them about some of the potential downsides to their behaviour, including the negative effects multitasking can have on their focus and productivity and the risk constant social media use can have on their real-life social skills. If they understand the problem they’ll be more motivated to join in with efforts to solve it.
Explaining how you see things to someone else (including your kids) can also help you to come up with your own, homemade solutions; it’s all very well to read an article like this about what you might do, but once you start discussing these ideas with other people you’ll find that it helps you to solidify your view and develop your own strategy for dealing with the problem.
Set boundaries – Creating set times or places that will be device free helps to establish some limits on device use. It’s crucial to provide opportunities for your family to communicate with each other without the distraction of their phones, tablets and other screens. If you need a hand getting the devices switched off, parental control apps can be a lifesaver, but their use always needs to be accompanied by clear explanation of why they’re being used and of any conditions you want to attach to their use (eg. Don’t arbitrarily turn the device off because it’s bugging you, first warn “If your homework’s not done by 6pm, your device will be locked for the rest of the evening”).
Lead the way – As the Common Sense Media survey suggests, this will be a real challenge for many of us. Dependence on technology is not just a teenage problem. The example set by parents is the fundamental guide for the behaviour of younger children and whilst teens may not be quite so quick to follow suit, they’ll certainly be hostile towards perceived hypocrisy on our part.
Check in – Keep the conversation about technology use and media consumption with your kids ongoing. Ask them what sites, apps or games they’re spending time on, what they’re watching, what shows their friends talk about at school. Watch an episode together with them or have a go yourself at the games they’re playing to both understand the material better and show your willingness to engage with the technology and find compromise together. Ask them what they like and dislike about the media they watch and use and what message they think that media is sending them.
I find the hardest thing as a parent is being disciplined and consistent with my children over screen time, it’s hard enough to restrict my own screen time let alone theirs! I have found the best solution is to allow them a fixed amount of time per day, and allow them to choose when that is, I have put a chart on the fridge where I can note down their screen time for the day. Kidslox helps with me with this as I can give a fixed amount of screen time after which the device locks by itself which saves the struggle of getting the device off my children!
Further, we’ll have a closer look at different aspects of phone addiction. Check out what are the reasons of obsession and run a quick test to find out if you are addicted to your smartphone.
What do the statistics say?
Especially vulnerable to phone addiction are kids and teenagers. A recent survey by American non-profit Common Sense Media (CSM) suggests that 50% of teens consider themselves to be addicted to their mobile devices and that parents suspect the number is even higher. Perhaps equally alarming, the same study found that 27% of those same parents would describe themselves as being addicted to their devices too! The study asked over 1200 teens and parents about their use of and attitudes towards smartphones and other mobile devices.
The report recognises the ambiguity of the word ‘addiction’ and elsewhere CSM has noted the difference between natural ‘super engagement’ and genuine addiction, which might be characterised by poor “behavior, mood changes, falling grades, mounting bills, or a lack of human interaction”. Even so, the report’s tone is largely cautionary, warning that internet addiction is potentially serious and requires additional study and that problematic media use can lead to reduced empathy and social-wellbeing as well as being a source of tension for many families.
According to a recent article in the Telegraph British kids are some of the most house bound and screen addicted in the world. 74% of our children spend less time than an hour a day outside which is the minimum recommended by the UN for prisoners. 18% of UK kids don’t play outside regularly at all, the main excuse given being the weather. The same survey found that British parents estimated that their children spend 26 per cent on average of their free time inside in front of a screen, compared to 21 per cent across the other countries surveyed, and only 12 per cent outdoors.
What are the reasons of phone addiction?
Fear of helplessness and isolation from the outside world. As soon as a telephone booth became a thing of the past, smartphones got to be our everyday companions. And if previously the absence of connection with the world was quite natural, today it may lead us to panic: no chance for the emergency call, no connection with relatives and friends, to say nothing of the social media.
Advertising. Adults are still able to face the flood of unnecessary information, while children aren’t able to eliminate irrelevant stuff. Moreover, even decent advertising in movies and cartoons make children think that life’s impossible without a phone. As for adults, they are manipulated by numerous sales, discounts, fashion trends, etc.
The fear of solitude. The phenomenon of self-sufficiency gradually passes into oblivion. And the modern generation mistakes self-sufficiency for the ability to be alone for a long time surrounded by mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. Are there people who could easily manage at least a day without modern means of communication? No more than 10% will survive in that kind of “hell.” Why? What is wrong with spending a day in a real life without any gadgets? It turns out you receive no messages, no calls, no e-mails, no chats on Skype and Facebook. And you become redundant and feel emptiness as if you were on a desert island.
The illusion of sociality and impunity. In real life, a person might have no friends, be reserved, have complexes. A phone gives the possibilities to feel needed and ignore any barriers of real life. On the Internet you can be anyone you want, ignore decency, not to restrain your temper, not to feel guilty. Using texts or chat rooms people have a romance, break relationships, cross the boundaries that they have in real life.
Phone addiction and its effect on your life
Phone addiction is real. Today different experts the world over talk about nomophobia which is the irrational but still real fear of being without your smartphone or unable to use it when you want. According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, phone addiction is very similar to gambling addiction and does need our attention. And if you are addicted to your phone it’s not just about losing your time but moreover a risk of different physical problems which includes:
- The pain and discomfort in the eyes (especially when you are at the screen for more than 2 hours a day).
- Eye fatigue.
- Neck problems.
- Increased illnesses due to germs on the phone.
- Distraction from everyday’s life is another (and probably the biggest) harm the addiction to a smartphone can cause.
Am I addicted to my phone?
Genuine addiction to anything is obviously something to be avoided. Here check a few questions that can help you to understand whether excessive screen time is a problem issue for you or your child:
- Do you get nervous when can’t find your phone immediately? Does the discomfort continue until you find the phone?
- Are you constantly checking your mail, social media profile or messenger chat even when you’re not expecting a specific message or call? Do you do this even when someone in the same room is vying for your attention?
- Do you spend more time chatting on social media than face to face?
- Do you closely follow the latest news in mobile technology to ensure you have the latest devices, functionalities and fad apps?
- Do you find it uncomfortable to turn your phone off, even when the situation calls for it?
- Do you text or read your Facebook feed while driving? (obviously this one’s illegal and very dangerous – if you’re doing it, stop!)
- Do you ever bump into other people or objects because your nose is in your screen while you walk?
- Are you the “app king” among your friends? By which I mean that you regularly download a lot of new stuff (apps, pictures, tunes etc.) but don’t use them for long (in many cases opening just once) before searching for the next thing?
- Do you take the phone everywhere (including to bed and the bathroom) with you (and use it there)?
- Is your most commonly used word “Pardon?” or something equivalent, because your attention is on your phone?
Obviously, some of these scenarios are more serious indicators of a problem than others. If several of them ring true for you though, you might want to think about finding some way to monitor or limit the amount of time you put into your device.
Child screen addiction questions
If you’re thinking about the role of screen time in the life of your child, it might be worth adding a few child specific questions to the ones above:
- Do you find your child spending more time playing mobile games than anything else?
- Does the amount of time your child spends at a screen grow? Do they notice this?
- Is your child constantly talking about video games, mobile apps, and other on-screen content?
- Do you feel your child’s screen time affects their school productivity?
- Does your child keep a phone or computer in their room overnight? If so, are they frequently tired and could it be connected to late night screen use including message or game checking?
The hard slog
It’s not an easy task, in fact, it’s a real challenge of modern parenting to deal with phone addiction, but it’s a battle worth participating in for the sake of our kids. Use the resources available to you including the likes of CSM and other parenting services and forums as well as technological help from parental control software. Talk about the challenge with other parents you know, find out what they do and if there’s anything you could be doing together (eg. you take their kids for a (device free) day out one week, they yours the next). If you’ve got some advice from your own experience of fighting your family’s device addiction, tell us about it in the comments below.