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Smart Ways to Overcome Smartphone and Social Media Addiction



Smartphone Addiction
Smartphone Addiction (Picture credit: mohamed_hassan from pixabay

Welcome to Youth Motivator. I would like to tell you how to overcome smartphone and social media addiction.
It is no doubt that smartphones are one of the most beneficial inventions ever which help us to run our lives efficiently but overusing them results in addiction and many people even fail to realise that they got addicted to their smartphones.
This problem is very real as many of the 2.7 billion smartphone users around the world are affected by smartphone addiction and social media addiction and this has become the norm.
The use of technology is not at all a problem but the overuse or misuse of it is.
This article will help you to get rid of the smartphone addiction and maintain a healthy relationship with your phone by which you can lead a much better and centred life.

Keep an eye on your smartphone usage-

The number of times you check your phone or unlock it can give a rough idea of whether or not you got addicted to your smartphone.
In Android, you can use Digital Wellbeing application to know the number of times you have unlocked your phone.
Otherwise, you can also download Checky - Phone Habit Tracker app from the Google Play to know the number of times you check your phone.
When you check your smartphone too often for no real reason, then it can be inferred that you are suffering from smartphone addiction.

Why smartphone addiction is overlooked?

Our society does not stigmatise the smartphone addiction in the same way it stigmatises other addictions like alcoholic addiction, etc.
Being addicted to smartphone and social media is socially acceptable and many people do not get offended by the smartphone addicts.
You can notice people glued to their smartphones at home, work, school, college and while exercising, eating food, travelling, hanging out with friends, etc. doing things like updating status in social media or clicking selfies.
Some people even interrupt the conversation in the middle to check their phones.
Many think that overusing of smartphones doesn’t harm in anyway but smartphone addiction impacts our health and well-being in a very negative way.

Phubbing-

Phubbing (Phone snubbing) means being glued to our smartphones in public places by ignoring the people around us.

Smombie-

Smombie or smartphone zombie is one who walks while being glued to his smartphone without paying any attention to his surroundings.

Negative effects of smartphone addiction-

Overuse of smartphones and social media makes us lazy, negatively affects our productivity, concentration, memory, social skills, sleep, work, relationships, hobbies and presence of mind and causes lack of impulse control, depression, inferiority complex, anxiety, narcissism, insomnia, posture problems, neck pain, etc.
Some of the common smartphone withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, decreased appetite, headache, nausea and sweating.
Due to smartphone addiction, our attention span has decreased to less than 5 minutes and we have developed shallow thinking.
We attain great things only with deep thinking and deep thinking demands analysing and interpreting the information without any distractions but our smartphones continuously distract us, by which deep thinking is nearly impossible.
The cure for smartphone addiction begins not by throwing away our smartphones but by limiting the smartphone usage.
Thankfully, there are many apps both on Android and iOS platforms which help us to limit our smartphone usage.
Some of the apps for Android include Digital Wellbeing, Checky - Phone Habit Tracker, Forest: Stay focused etc.
And some of the apps for iOS are Moment, SPACE - Break phone addiction, etc.

Realising the problem-

Many major tech companies have realised the negative effects of the smartphone addiction, so they are offering solutions to overcome this problem.
For example, Google is offering Digital Wellbeing app to curb smartphone addiction by providing valuable information like number of unlocks, number of notifications received, amount of time spent in a particular app and it also provides many additional features like wind down, focus mode, parental controls and other useful ways to reduce interruptions.
With Digital Wellbeing, you can also set timers for using an app for a particular period of time.
These apps will track your smartphone usage patterns and provide you with very useful insights which will motivate you to spend only the minimum amount of time on your phone.
Additionally, you can motivate yourself by rewarding yourself with something nice like eating good food when you have improved your scores.
You can use Google Family Link app if you are concerned for your child who spends too much time on a smartphone or tablet.
By using Google Family Link, you can limit the time your child spends on his or her smartphone.
An important thing to be noted is that every app or solution to control smartphone addiction can be by-passed and the real motivation to control the smartphone over use must come from within.

Technology is a good servant but a bad master-

Smartphones and social media were created to be used as a tool but unfortunately many get addicted to them.
On an average, a young adult daily spends 4 hours of his time on his smartphone and checks his phone 80 times a day.
Studies have found that more than half of the smartphone users (around 66 per cent) suffer from nomophobia (No mobile phone phobia), by which a person experiences irrational fear when he is separated from his smartphone or when the battery of his smartphone is about to die.
Many of us have a habit of checking our smartphone the first thing in the morning and the last thing in the night.
The use of smartphone at night before going to sleep is even more dangerous because the blue light emitted by the smartphone supresses the release of melatonin hormone, the hormone which regulates the sleep/wake cycle.
Because of this, one experiences difficulty to fall asleep which negatively affects the quality of sleep and as a result, his mental and physical health gets affected.
Some people even wake up in the middle of the night to check their smartphones.
So, it is important to place your smartphone far away while you prepare to sleep and to not check your smartphone an hour before you sleep.
You must also give yourself some screen-free time.

Develop a good habit-

If you find it difficult to kill a bad habit, please replace the bad habit with a good habit.
Majority of the people check their phones within 5 minutes of waking up and this is certainly a bad habit.
This happens on a daily basis because you set up alarm on your phone.
When you wake up in the morning to turn off the alarm on your phone, you might check your phone because you might have received some notifications from the social media apps.
So, to get rid of this bad habit set up alarm on a traditional alarm clock or on a feature phone.
Taking smartphone into the washroom is another bad habit.
So, instead of taking smartphone into the washroom, take a good book.
If you feel that you have nothing good or interesting to do except checking your smartphone, please cultivate some good hobbies like playing outside, biking, drawing, etc. by which your interest in the smartphone eventually gets diminished.
This provides you an opportunity to escape from the virtual world into the real world.
You should promise yourself to not to look at your smartphones while doing important tasks like driving, eating, exercising, etc.

Read a good book-

Once in a week, turn off the internet on your smartphone and read a good book.
Keep an alarm for 30 minutes and start reading the book and until that alarm goes off, do not check your phone.
Please select an interesting book, so that you will not get tempted to check your phone.
Another great idea would be to take a walk or to bike on the countryside after promising yourself that you will not look at your phone until you have completed the walk.
The greenery and the fresh air at the countryside will refresh your mind and make you a happy person.

It’s good to turn on the Grayscale-

The logos of many apps are purposefully designed to be very colourful and attractive to capture your attention into using them.
So, when you turn on the grayscale feature, your phone displays only black and white colours and this makes the display of your phone unattractive, by which you can limit your smartphone usage.
The grayscale feature is available on both Android and iOS.

Keep a note on the notifications-

Every time you click on the notifications of the social media apps, your brain releases dopamine hormone which makes you feel good.
Eventually, your brain starts to associate dopamine with notifications.
As a result, you begin to eagerly wait for the notifications from the social media apps and constantly check your phone for new notifications and when you don’t receive any notifications, you start to feel bad.
Eventually, your brain becomes desensitised to the daily dose of notifications from the social media apps and starts to demand more notifications, by which you begin to engage more with the social media for getting more notifications for the sake of feeling good.
This is how social media becomes addictive and hogs your precious time.
When you overstimulate the dopamine neurons, the neurons eventually die and this leads to depression or suicidal thoughts.
So, turn off the notifications for the less important apps or you can only turn off the unimportant notifications while allowing the important notifications from an app.
It would be more helpful if you delete the unused or overwhelming apps on your phone.
Additionally, unwanted emails also distract us, so it would be wise decision to unsubscribe to the unwanted emails lists.

Ways to get around-       

You will be less tempted to use your smartphone when you lock your smartphone by using a long password or difficult pattern instead of employing convenient unlock methods like face unlock, Face ID or fingerprint.
By using them you will be discouraged to frequently unlock and check your smartphone.

Choose the PC-

You constantly use the social media because you take the smartphone along with you all the time.
The social media apps on your smartphone will tempt you to check them regularly by sending notifications.
You can uninstall the social media apps on your mobile and use social media only on your PC (personal computer).
As you cannot carry your PC with you all the time, you will be less tempted to check your social media.

Switch off the disturbance-

Many times you might have felt guilty for wasting your time for checking the social media in between the important work.
So, while doing important work, if possible switch off your phone or turn on the airplane mode.
By doing this, you will not get distracted and will definitely become more productive.
And if by chance you accidentally reach your phone to check it, you will be reminded the reason for which you switched off the phone.

Combating FOMO-

Many people constantly check social media because of FOMO (Fear of missing out).
Many fear that they will miss out great experiences by being disconnected from the social media.
To tackle this fear, you should schedule a specific amount of time daily for using social media and you should remind yourself that you can live fine without social media or smartphone like our previous generations lived.

Wall off the bad habit with wallpaper-

Many of us impulsively check our phone for no real reason.
So, to get rid of this bad habit, set up wallpaper on your devices with text like- Respect your time, time is very precious, I (smartphone) am wasting your time, etc.
For this, you can use Snapseed app, in which you can add text to your wallpapers.
To limit your phone usage, you can stick wallpapers on the doors of your washroom, study room, bedroom, etc. with text like- smartphones are not allowed.

Not so social-

We, the human beings are social creatures and carve for social attention.
Humans have achieved many great things by team work by involving the other people in the work.
When we receive notifications from the social media apps, our brains will interpret them as social bonding from the real humans.
So, eventually, a social media addict starts to substitute the real world people with virtual online people (accounts).
When a social media addict tries to withdraw himself from the social media, he might expect many withdrawal symptoms like restlessness, craving, irritability, etc.
As many people only project the very positive aspects of their life on the social media, one might feel insecure when he compares his normal life with their overly positive lives.

Spare the children-

Setting up social media accounts for children is a very bad idea yet many parents do it without realising the negative impacts.
Adults can control their impulses but the children cannot control their impulses and they easily get addicted to the social media and smartphones.

A bad way to relieve stress-

When a smartphone addict doesn’t check his phone for a brief period of time, he begins to feel anxious because cortisol, our body's main stress hormone accumulates in his brain and to get rid of the tension, he impulsively checks the phone even when there is no notification.
A person who got addicted to his smartphone becomes anxious when he is separated from his phone or when the battery of his smartphone is going to die.
It is a very bad idea to relax by using a smartphone because you will tire your eyes by focusing on the small screen of your smartphone.
The best way to relax is to take a good nap.

The wrong message-

We get angry when someone delays to respond to our messages because we feel that everyone will be constantly checking their phones, much like we do.
So, when we express anger at him for responding late, we are making him a smartphone addict by forcing him to check his phone more periodically.

The instant problem-

We like to instantaneously respond to all the messages on social media, so this gives us a reason to be glued to our smartphones round the clock to constantly check for any incoming messages.
This habit severely hampers our productivity by which we cannot focus on anything except on our smartphone.

Push notifications-

Push notifications were introduced by Blackberry in the year 2003.
They were meant to reduce the phone usage by displaying the emails on the lock screen itself without requiring unlocking the phone for checking or refreshing the inbox for any new emails.
But now-a-days, the scenario has completely changed, as now almost every app sends us push notifications by making distracting sounds which makes us hyperactive.
An answer to this problem is bundling the notifications, in which the same type of notifications can be bundled as one mega notification and delivered at a set time, thus reducing the stress.

Declutter your home screen-

The home screen appears when you press the home button or when you unlock the phone.
So, please declutter your home screen by getting rid of any unnecessary apps and keep only the most useful apps, like maps, dialer, calendar, etc.
Also to make the things even better, you can hide the unimportant and distracting apps by keeping them in faraway folders and you can even lock the folders with a password.

The infinite effect-

Some apps like Facebook and Instagram use infinite scrolling feature.
When we use the apps which utilise this feature, we might not keep a record of the time because new information is continuously loaded and there is no end point to this.
So, you must be well aware of your time while using these types of apps, as time is a finite and important resource.
Pagination is completely opposite to the infinite scrolling feature.
In pagination, the information is categorised into several pages, like on a Google search page where the information is divided into several pages.
When you view information with pagination, you will be well aware of the amount of time you spent.

Live in the present and with your dear ones-

You must make a resolution to not check your phone while you are interacting with your friends and family members by placing your smartphone in your pocket or your bag.
Only by this you can spend some quality time with the people around you.
If you get offended when someone is ignoring you by checking his smartphone, then you can politely ask him to keep away his smartphone.
For this, you have to lead by example, for which you must cultivate a habit to prioritise the people over checking your smartphone and only then you can request the other people to do the same.

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