The smartphone will be hailed as one of the most disruptive inventions ever to spread across the globe, with its impact being almost immediate in developed nations, and is now taking over the rest of the world.
Sure, the handheld device is an incredible bit of kit, connecting us to all of the information that we could possibly need, people from around the world, and copious entertainment products. ‘Convenience is King’ only became a truer statement once smartphones made their way into everyone’s pocket.
Now a necessity in many parts of the world, people have turned from constantly praising the connectivity and engagement provided by handheld devices to seeing the somewhat adverse effects.
Particularly during 2020, smartphones become a point of contention. Sure, they offered convenient ways to engage in something to fill time, but they also held the portal open to work and bored acquaintances at all hours. However, being such powerful technology, smartphones don’t have to be the crux of your existence.
While it’s easier to just respond to each notification and has even been shown to release a dose of dopamine in our minds – as well as toxins spawned from stress – with a bit of work, we can change our relationships with our smartphones.
It’s not easy to break habitual use of such a convenient device that’s hell-bent on having your attention, but applying a few ideas and easing into good practices can help tremendously.
Here, we’re not looking at how to cut yourself off from your smartphone or become a tech-hating barbarian: instead, this page will provide information to help you recognise the situation and give you more power over your mobile through optimised and potentially preferred uses.
Assessing the Environment of Smartphone Overuse
One of the main problems with smartphone use is its overuse. It’s become habitual for many people to, just before bed, pop on their phone screen and scroll through their various social media and news feeds.
Whether it’s because of some unsubstantiated fear of missing out or just because you hope to find something that isn’t there, this habit is a foundational behaviour of those struggling to use their smartphone time effectively.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be sitting up scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, but rather that when people give time to their smartphones, it should be with the aim of being much more productive.
It doesn’t help that apps, even if you haven’t personally received a message, still notify you of just other things going on to coax you into the platform. Over time, this takes a toll, with many people citing the main problem with excessive use being that it gives a loss of sense of time while also leading to a regret of that lost time.
Control has been given to smartphones because we respond to their every beck and call. Before mobiles became ‘smart,’ there was good reason to respond to a buzz as it’d either be a phone call or text from someone you know needing your attention.
Now, it can be anyone or any app company who just wants your attention – but usually doesn’t deserve it. To an extent, this even applies to work contacting you in this way, with them not being deserving of your time unless they’re paying.
Some will bat this off as being a problem of non-adults, those of weak will, and people without anything better to do, but smartphone misuse is prevalent among try-hards and workaholics too.
It’s been found that perfectionists join the impulsive and those lacking self-control in the group of people most susceptible to the allures of smartphone overuse. All of this can lead to stress and sleep deficit – none of which will help anyone’s personal or professional life.
Going cold turkey isn’t the answer here, especially as we exist in a culture that demands a near-constant internet connection.
Furthermore, you shouldn’t deny yourself the aspects of smartphone use that bring you enjoyment, but you should aim to fine-tune your usage to be more productive wherever possible. By limiting smartphone use, you can achieve more clarity, sharper critical thinking, and reduce stress – you just need to know how to get started.
Skewing Your Smartphone into a Useful Tool Again
In a study, it was found that smartphone use affected four key areas of wellbeing. These are the senses of: a lack of control; daily interference; blocking positive relationships; and it being a boredom remedy that limits personal growth.
However, each of these aspects can be addressed through moderation and selecting optimised products to give your time to, allowing you to ease away from constant smartphone use. It’s all about having a more mindful and healthier relationship with your phone, which may include some changes.
The first step is seeing the facts behind your smartphone behaviour. Anyone can say that they think they’re spending too much time on an app, but that rarely resonates until you see the hard numbers.
For this, get the StayFree app. It gives an overview of your daily app use in minutes and hours, offers insightful reports, and you can even set overuse reminders.
The average internet user is said to burn over two hours and 20 minutes on social media; if you think that your smartphone controls your time, you’re bound to see this reflected in the stats.
Entertainment is a huge part of smartphone use. It can be truly relaxing in its application if used sparingly and you engage in products that don’t adhere to the modern conventions of most mobile app games.
Should you like these games, which is fine, it’s important to turn off notifications so that you only play when you want to – not when you’re nudged. This applies to all apps, in fact, as this will automatically put you in control of when you want to converse, play, or explore.
Through neutral or fun-centric entertainment products, you can essentially undergo attention-bias modification training to teach yourself to only look for the positive and essentially blank out the negative.
Not many mobile games aim for this approach, but one which won’t send notifications as they’re on a mobile website are the free mobile casino games that don’t require any real money commitment to play. Games like slots are entirely geared towards anticipation of a win and then emphasising that win.
Take the real money aspect out of the equation, and you just have a simple mobile game that entertains without having to focus on the outcome. Being on a site also gives you the power to only play the free games when you want to play.
Another way to gear your phone to work for you, and not for you to just be a customer of its offering, is to turn its stress-inducing features into relaxation-enhancing exercises. It’s quite remarkable how much you’d benefit from even a short spell of meditation each day – even 15 minutes will do the trick.
You can use the reminder and notification system baked into your smartphone to prompt you to relax, with top apps like Insight Timer and Breethe being very good at making you stick to a routine.
Part of this approach is to also make your phone help you sleep, as opposed to hinder rest. For this, get the free Headspace app, get into Sleepcasts, and allow your phone to guide you to a good night of rest rather than nudging you to doomscroll.
It’s not easy to fight against every attention-seeking whim of the smartphone, but you can take back control to have a more productive and beneficial relationship with the essential device.