How many times have you checked your smartphone already today? The chances are, you can’t even remember because it’s happened so often and is so ingrained into almost every activity we do, with the average person interacting with their phone 2,617 times a day. That adds up to 2.4 hours of every day, with ‘heavy users’ spending up to 3.8 hours, which is a scary statistic.
Another sobering stat to consider is that since the rise of the smartphone, a study has shown that our average attention span has dropped to just eight seconds, lower than that of a goldfish. Can you even remember the question that was asked at the start of this article? Maybe not, and it could be the fault of that smartphone in your pocket or (more likely) your hand.
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So what can be done about this? If your first instinct when you wake up is to reach for your phone and it’s the last thing you see before you fall asleep at night, you need to find some techniques to break its hold over you and the good news is that there are things you can do that research has shown can help.
Here are some suggestions:
Build up to it gradually
Telling a significant other that you don’t want to spend as much time with them is difficult, even when that significant other is a phone. The fear of being cut off from the connected world that your phone gives you access to has a name - nomophobia - so try breaking away in short 15 minute periods at first, increasing the length of the breaks every 15 minutes.
Turn virtual into reality
If you’re worried that spending less time on your phone will cut you off from people, turn that into a positive by actually going and meeting people in person. You’ll find that it makes you much happier than texting them, as hugs and the sounds of your friends’ voices release oxytocin, which make you feel good.
Switch off push notifications
The notifications we get from our phones and apps can actually rewire our neural patterns; they have that much of a hold over us. So start small by disabling the notifications from your social media apps and see how freeing it is.
Scramble your screen
You probably put a lot of care into making sure the home screen on your phone has all the apps you regularly use and your thumb will know how to find your favorites quickly every time. These apps (social media and games) have been called ‘bottomless bowls ’ because of the amount of time you can waste on them, so move them around on your phone (preferably off your home screen altogether) regularly to help you avoid the temptation.
Get a real alarm clock
Having your phone by your bedside at night because you use it as an alarm clock might seem like a good idea but four out of 10 adults say that they check their phones if they wake up during the night, and smartphones have been linked with tiredness. So get a real alarm clock and keep your phone in a drawer.
These are just five techniques you can use to try and break the hold your smartphone has over you. CashNetUSA has come up with 10 tips in this infographic, so why not try some and see if you really can cut down on the amount of tapping and swiping that makes up your day?