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Letting go of the phone

The first thing I encounter when I wake up is my phone. I finally turn off my alarm clock after pressing the snooze button nine times before the final call to get up and get ready for class. I unplug my phone from the charger and take it with me to the bathroom. I read the news, go through my social media feeds, play some music in the background as I rush to get ready for class. Within the first hour of being awake, I spend 80% of it on my phone, and that is on addiction to my phone. When Apple introduced Screen Time I genuinely understood the full extent to which I was obsessed with my phone, for example, my average time spent on Instagram is one hour and fifteen minutes. Yes, I regularly use the app for work, but the total average time I spend on my phone is four hours and fifty-two minutes. What could I possibly be doing? Tik Tok, Snapchat, Facebook, Safari and Music are what occupy my time – none of these are used for any other purpose than staring at a screen to pass the time. It’s not just me, others began to realise the full extent to which they were addicted to looking at their phones, and I now get reports every week stating how my time I have spent on my phone and on certain apps. 

Our phones have become everything in our lives because they now serve us through their high number of functions. How do we break this addiction? I think we need a little digital detox because letting go of the phone every now and then never hurt anybody.

Set Time Limits On Your Apps

This is the hardest rule to follow, especially when Apple gives you a fifteen minute extension every time you reach the limit and can repeat it, but it does show you how much you’re using your phone and certain apps. I have a two hour limit per app during my busier academic periods, if I have hit those two hours, at least I am aware that I have spent more time on my phone than I have spent it studying – it’s time to lock the phone away. 

Silence is Key

Put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’, even when you do have notifications, your phone won’t light up or inform you of any calls and messages until you pick it up yourself. This option will give you the option to feel less disturbed, instead of peeking over at your phone every time it lights up, you can concentrate on the task at hand. You even have the option of limiting what notifications you are made aware of, they don’t have to be turned off altogether, but you can choose to remove banner notifications and just have the number waiting by the app. That way, when you do go through your phone, it’s only when you reach the app you will know if you need to respond to anything. 

Photo by Doğukan Şahin on Unsplash

Have Realistic Goals

Going cold turkey isn’t easy, so be realistic in how much separation anxiety you can handle when you let go of your phone, otherwise you may find yourself giving up very quickly. If you know you can’t resist taking a look at your social media apps, then delete them all from your phones, that way you can only check them from a computer. If you are tempted to pick it up constantly, keep your phone of your sight, and don’t take it with you when you head to the bathroom or toilet. 

Change Where You Charge

This one is simple, move your phone charger away from you, that goes for your desk and bed. It’s the first thing we usually encounter in the mornings. If you’re in that category of automatically checking your phone in the morning and the evening, dump it where you can’t reach it, just pick a different place that is not close to either your bed or your desk. You want to break the automated response to look at your phone in the morning and the evening – turn it into a deliberate choice. 

Picking it up Again?

Add a visual prompt to your device, it could be a hairband or a post-it note, even a sticker will suffice. These are to act as a prompt and remind you to pay attention to why you are picking up your phone – again. Are you picking it up out of habit? Are you picking it up out of boredom? Are you picking it up because you need to? By noticing your habits, it will allow you to make more deliberate choices, rather than automatic ones. 

Just remember that your phone is not the centre of the universe. I create so much content on social media and the internet is vital to my career, but even I have had to learn to let go of the phone, and I can agree that it really helps with your mental and emotional health.

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