I was leaving my house one day and I was doing the triple pat-down. You know, that thing you do when you check for your Keys, Wallet and Phone. That got me thinking, how often is our behaviour dictated by our phone? Have you ever experienced a ghost vibration? This is a phenomenon where it feels like your phone is vibrating, however, when you check your phone you realise that it was your mind playing tricks on you. The first time that this happened to me it was a bit of a wake-up call. How dependent are we actually on our phones? Please don’t misunderstand me here, I love technology. I work at an E-Commerce Company as the E-Commerce Coordinator. Lots of my job revolves around understanding and utilising the latest tech. That being said, I can’t help but think that we as humans are way too dependent and reactive to our phones. We literally let our phones dictate how we live our lives.
According to This Article, Americans spend an average of 5 and a half hours a day on their smartphones. That equates to roughly 13 years of the average American’s life assuming they only start using their phone at 18 and stop using it when they die. Imagine what you could achieve in 13 years.
Dopamine the hormone of instant gratification
Smartphone manufacturers and Social media experts use a little hormone called “Dopamine” to entice you into checking your phone. “Why?” you ask? Well you see, Smart manufacturers want you to use their product, the Smartphone. Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube make their money by showing you Ads. The more time you spend looking at their ads, the more money they make. Long story short, social media is designed to make you spend as much time on your phone as possible.
Your brain associates cues with certain outcomes. It’s a very simple cause and effect loop. For example, you receive a facebook Message on your Smartphone. Messenger has a very distinct notification sound that you have subconsciously associated with getting a message. Lots of Smartphones even have an LED that blinks when you get a message these days, most times, it’s even colour coded to match the app that it’s associated with. Going back to Facebook Messenger once you’ve been alerted about that message either through, Sound, Vibration or a Blinking LED you instantly pick your phone up because who could imagine letting anyone wait longer than a minute for a reply.
Below I am going to outline some ways to eliminate the initial cue that initiates this cause and effect loop.
Here are 5 ways you can become less dependent on your phone:
1. Make use of do not disturb mode and Silent Mode:
Most phones these days allow you to schedule Airplane mode or do not disturb mode. This is great because without even thinking about it you can schedule your phone to be less distracting either during work or after work when you would rather be spending time with your family.
2. Disable the LED indicator light
As I highlighted above, disabling cues such as LED indicator light will make you much less likely to check your phone.
3. Disable social media notifications
If you need to be privy to certain notifications such as Sms’s and Whatsapp messages for work reasons, try disabling social media notifications. Seeing a notification that someone has liked your photo on Instagram can be detrimental to focus.
4. Make social media harder to access
I’ve put all my social media apps into a folder on the last screen on my phone called “Read a book”.
5. Track your screen time
Tracking your screen time can be helpful, in that it really shows you just how much time you’re wasting on your phone. Personally, I use “Rescuetime” to track my app usage on my computer and phone.