It’s a tough fact to face in this day and age that we are very reliant on that small device we almost carry everywhere with us: our mobile phones. It’s crazy to think that such a small thing can be such a large part of our everyday lives. It is our main communication point with the rest of the world; however, can we all really attest to only using it for communication purposes? I mean, if we did, why wouldn’t we all just still use flip phones if that was the only reason for having one?
Many of us can spend hours on it mindlessly surfing the Internet, or browsing Facebook or Instagram for useless purposes. So is there a chance that we are really addicted to our smart phone? After all, companies like Apple, Facebook and Microsoft spend millions a year in an attempt to keep us glued to our screen for as long as possible. Cleary their efforts are working, with the average person spending at least 20 hours a week on their phone. These statistics get worse the younger the adult is, as they grew up surrounded by these technologies. It is just second nature to them and has become an integral part of their life. There are so many functions packed inside such a small device to keep a kid entertained for hours. Whether they are messaging their fun group chat with friends, staring at their crush’s Instagram pictures or watching the latest episodes of Black Mirror on Netflix, it is all packed into that little device.
How to tackle the smartphone addiction
Many of us are victims of the smartphone market and currently own one, probably spending more time than necessary on it per week if you had to admit it. But, as I said, there are a lot of smart people who are dedicating themselves to make this phone as addictive as a drug. So is this addiction really our fault when this small device is becoming as addictive as some of the world’s most addictive substances, like heroin addiction? Although the symptoms of withdrawals from a lack of phone usage are probably not comparable to, say, opioid withdrawal symptoms, it can still
damage us psychologically. Studies have shown that we check our phones 47 times a day, and this equates to opening it up every 19 minutes of our waking lives. We are becoming a slave to the system all because of psychological tricks some of the world’s smartest people are using on us.
Take, for example, Snapchat’s streak feature. When two people send and receive Snaps with each other for days on end, both receive emoji flames next to their names, alongside a number, which ticks up every 24 hours, indicating how long the two have maintained their connection. If either misses a day, both lose their flame. That interface, while playful, capitalizes on what psychologists call the endowed progress effect. Fearful of zeroing out their banked progress, teenagers have handed over their login information to friends before vacations simply so that someone can help them maintain their streak. These little tricks are what keeps us hooked on to our phones and the apps it possesses. So how can we break free of this?
When is enough enough
I think when you find yourself spending hours above what you need to be on your smartphone, you should question whether you need to make a change to your life and everyday routine. That time could be much better spent on other activities and used much more productively. If you are capable of wasting so much time every day, you probably aren’t putting enough work into becoming the best you that you can possibly be. I think starting off by limiting your phone use to less than 30 minutes a day above what you need (such as checking important messages being sent or received, phone calls you need to place, facts you need to search on the internet etc.) are all acceptable uses of the phone.
However, scrolling the Facebook and Instagram feed for an hour straight definitely isn’t a good use of your time. There are much better ways to spend this time, because it’s a precious thing and we only get so much time each day. Once you get used to limiting your time, start to cut it down each day. After a while, you will start to be more productive in bettering yourself and your life, which should always be our main goal.