The cell phone: This device helps us in so many ways. We can make phone calls, text friends, check email, post pictures, navigate our way to a destination, plus much more. We can accomplish practically anything with that trusted smartphone.
It is hard to identify the delicate line when this helpful device becomes enslaving. It is obvious that modern society's technology has created an internal conflict on how we spend our time and how we interact with others. When left idle, do we reach for a book or our electronic device? Do we go outside or do we browse Facebook? The sad reality is that most of us are missing precious moments daily while distracted by our phones. The unhealthy dependency we have on our electronics, especially our cell phones, distracts us from beautiful moments we will never be able to repeat.
Your Be Better challenge this week is to find opportunities to disconnect from your phone. Put your phone in time-outs.
Although uncomfortable at first, the time you spend disconnected from your phone is liberating. Throughout the day, find opportunities to put your phone aside and be present in the moment. We are not talking about “aside” as in “next to you.” We are talking about aside as in totally out of sight. Notice how your behavior changes when your phone is absent. Do you feel anxious? Do you feel more present? Or do you feel bored? Over the next couple of weeks, allow yourself to be aware of those feelings and strive to find the ability to be present in the moment again, without a cell phone by your side.
Here are a couple of tips and tasks that might help you become more aware of your attachment to your phone.
First, take the test. Are you addicted to your phone?
Be Better loves the test highlighted in the article “4 signs you’re addicted to your cell phone.”
- Do you panic when you’ve misplaced your phone?
- Are you on your phone during social situations or in the presence of family?
- Do you carry your smartphone everywhere, even to the bathroom?
- Do you go to sleep and wake up looking at your phone?
Next, notice the people around you. Who is head down staring at a phone and who is walking around connecting with people through smiles and eye contact? You might also pay attention to cell phone use in restaurants, busy streets, cars or doctors’ offices. Don’t judge; just pay attention. Notice the cell phone users’ behavior or their lack of behavior with the outside world.
How cell phones affect our mental health. How does our attachment to cell phones affect our mental health? A recent study by researchers at Baylor University calculated that the average college-age American woman is on her phone for 10 hours a day. Although the new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) only lists gambling as a diagnosable behavioral addiction, all the characteristics of addiction translate to our attachment to our cell phones. Addictions become all-consuming and isolate us from the world. There is a clinical term called “variable ratio reinforcement,” which could be one of the reasons we keep checking our phones. Normally used to describe gambling at slot machines, what it means is that we never know when we will get a text message or notification that produces a positive feeling. When we are attached to our phone, we lose out on opportunities to interact with real people and fail to be present in the moment.
Put your phone on silent, not vibrate. When your phone is on vibrate, the vibrating buzz is a constant reminder that you should check your phone because you are about to miss a phone call or text message. The problem is that our phones are attached to many other notification systems, such as Facebook, Instagram, emails, etc. With so many social platforms at your fingertips, it is already tempting to check the updates on your phone: You don’t need the vibration reminders. There is even something called Phantom Cellphone Syndrome, which is when a person thinks his or her phone is vibrating but, in actuality, it isn’t. Have you ever experienced that sensation?
An article by Mental Floss offers an explanation from Larry Rosen, a professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and author of iDisorder. He believes that we are almost always anticipating some sort of technological interaction, especially with our smartphones, so we inevitably interpret some unrelated stimuli as a phone call.
Know when to turn your cell phone off in social situations. Create a list for you and your family of “no cell phone” situations.
- When you get home from work, put your phone in another room for an hour to spend quality time with your husband, kids, roommates, friends, etc.
- When you exercise, do not answer phone calls and text messages if you are using your phone for exercise apps or music.
- Don't bring your phone to church, yoga or mediation.
- Find peace in the fact that you are off the grid for small moments throughout the day.
- Delete your Facebook app for the week so you do not get Facebook notifications on your phone.
Finding the balance with technology is going to be modern society’s greater struggle. Enjoy the challenge this week. Become part of the Be Better Moveme nt by posting pictures showing your commitment to the Be Better Challenges of the week. When you do, make sure to hashtag #bebetterchallenge