E J is a therapist and counsellor with Holistic London, specialising in relationships, emotional difficulties, and discovering life purpose.
For information about his work, visit here.
I was on the train going into London this morning, and there was a fellow standing in front of me, with peculiar behaviour: he took his smartphone out, looked at it, returned it to his pocket, and then repeated the entire routine again a few minutes later, over and over!
I looked around the train, and perhaps I was the only one looking around, because most of the other folks were either looking at their phones or reading their Kindles.
Explanation: We are addicted. To our technology.
We seem to care less about the people we are with, and more about those who aren't there.
Research by Tecmark reveals the average smartphone user picks up their phone more than 1,500 times a week — more than 200 times a day! They use the device for three hours and sixteen minutes each day - the equivalent of almost one full day a week.
This constant smartphone access leads to loss of personal contact, inability to focus and a sense of overwhelm; almost four in ten users admitted feeling lost without their gadgets.
We are addicted to this technology for a variety of reasons. First, it is fun! All of the gizmos, perky ring tones and games are exciting. And the multi-tasking functions of the phone keep us hooked. We might go to the phone to check the time, and soon we are submerged in texts/emails, with expectations to respond within seconds.
What can be done?
1. Consider the use is mentally addictive (and often dangerous, like when driving). Make it your slave, not your master.
2. Go on a diet. Confront impulses to be on top of every text/email conversation. Tell friends and family that you usually check texts/emails twice a day, and see if you can stick to it!
3. Separate work and personal texts/emails, to help focus.
4. Turn off notifications, so you’re not prompted to check.
5. Make your smartphone “dumber”: Question all of the apps and functions, and select only the ones that help you feel more focused and productive in physical reality. Personally, I have a smartphone but do not have apps or email on it, and rarely miss it. (Note: Although it is called a smartphone, the games on your phone are not making you smarter.)
6. Put the phone away. In a drawer at work, or in another room at home. Or put it on “airplane mode” when you are not intentionally using it.
7. Wear a watch. Checking the time on your phone opens the door to all sorts of seductive phone functions.
8. Don’t bring the phone (or other technology) into the bedroom. Use an alarm clock. Some people sleep with their phones under their pillows, or in their pyjamas! Consider the impact of the electromagnetic waves on your sleep. You really don’t need to check messages, Facebook, etc. first thing in the morning. What do you think you are missing?
9. Spend time with the people you are with.