The cellphone was only invented in 1973 yet today, 97% of Americans currently own a cellphone of some kind. Given that humans have only been around 300,000 years, it’s worth questioning and reexamining the relationship we have with a square piece of metal that’s only been around the last 50 years of our existence.
Whether or not you uphold positive or negative attitudes toward the inclusion of today’s technology in our everyday lives, its presence is here and not going away any time soon. Although we don’t fully know all the effects of excessive phone use, it's safe to say that we all need to maintain healthy habits when using them. Below are three simple steps to identifying and curbing these habits:
Step 1: Identify Your Why
Identifying why you want to limit your phone usage is the first step needed to curb it. Are you finding yourself mindlessly scrolling too much? Easily annoyed by what you see online? Unable to focus? All of these questions prompt you to take a holistic review of your digital wellness. Digital wellness is a portfolio of habits and mindsets that contribute towards a positive and healthy relationship with technology. Once you've identified the status of your digital wellness and why you want to strengthen it, you can always look back to “why” for motivation if you're ever off track.
Step 2: Set Measurable Goals Each Day
We’re usually with our phones all day, every day, so this change requires us to be intentional with our choices. Setting specific goals each day gives us a sense of control in this human-tech relationship where it often feels like we don’t have any.
Most smartphones have built-in app timers that allow you control how many hours a day you’ll like to spend on a particular app. The tricky part here is not ignoring the limit usage notification that comes up.
We’ve mastered social distancing but can we master cell distancing? Physically separating yourself from your phone has many benefits, especially at night. Try keeping your phone in another room before going to bed. This prevents you from scrolling if you suddenly wake up and then subsequently it won't be the first thing you look at in the morning. A 24-hour digital detox or a weekend screen cleanse are also good methods to normalize being away from your phone.
And turn off notifications. Being constantly updated on new social posts or emails just furthers the need within us to check our phones.
Step 3: Recognize Your New Normal
Going from a cellphone superglued to your hand to becoming a modern-day monk who lives in the present isn’t the goal because it’s just not realistic. Incremental changes that we consistently commit to are. This means recognizing and celebrating the changes you’ve made no matter how small they may seem. Have you noticed you’re getting more work or tasks done? What have your family and friends noticed about you?