I’m not sure I need a mental health professional to validate my feelings about technology’s evil downside, but it’s good to know that most of us are on the same page about one thing: overuse (or call it “abuse”) of anything—be it drugs, alcohol, food, or your credit card—can lead to undesirable outcomes.
Over the past few years, the explosion of smartphones and social networks has made us accessible anytime, anywhere, to anyone. While this may be positive in many ways, the downside is very real.
While the study cited is anecdotal at best, Time released this article a few months ago about a correlation between excessive Twitter use and high levels of infidelity or divorce. Not surprisingly, the behavior that fuels one to openly and constantly share (or overshare!) information generally reserved for a trusted partner or friend is the same behavior that would likely lead someone to search for validation elsewhere.
Smartphones and social media allow these latent behaviors to come barreling to the forefront much faster.
So, where do you fall on the spectrum? Are you the jerk pulling out your phone during a date with an intelligent woman because you lack attention span? Or perhaps you’re the gal who takes selfies 15 times a day—especially when you’re feeling down—then constantly checks Instagram to see how many “hearts” you’ve gotten.
If you’re looking to “slow your roll” and get your life somewhat back to normal, here are seven tips for curbing your smartphone addiction. I’ll bet if you take these to heart, society at large will benefit. And your friends and family will be grateful, too.
1. When waiting at a crosswalk or crossing the street, keep your hands in your pockets. If you don’t have pockets, clasp your hands behind your back, like you’re wearing invisible handcuffs.
2. Remove any and all apps that allow you to pay a retailer with your smartphone. Like Starbucks, for example. Just use a credit card or cash.
3. The first time a flight attendant asks you to turn off your phone, pretend she is the POTUS and do so immediately. Pick up a magazine or a book, and read it for 20 minutes, until you reach cruising altitude.
4. If you’re having a particularly addictive smartphone day, throw your phone in the toilet, telling yourself you want to see if the bag of rice trick really works. If it does, you’ve bought yourself 15 to 30 minutes of phoneless time, if not…well then, even better.
5. Don’t use your smartphone as your alarm clock.
6. Put your phone on “do not disturb” between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., which is prime family, friend, and quality “self-care” time. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to feel relaxed without the constant notification buzzing.
7. When you’re standing in line—at a grocery store, at a concert, at some random bathroom, strike up a conversation with the person standing next to you. Do this instead of reaching for your phone to check the stock market, Facebook, or sports stats for the one-millionth time that day. People are much more interesting in person than over the Internet.
P.S. On your deathbed, you will not wish you had spent more time with your smartphone. Think about that the next time you are standing idly by—or what you think is idly by.
Put. It. Away.