All of the apps people have come to love have grown exponentially over the past decade, and it seems almost impossible to keep up with all of the advancements. Every day a new app comes out that promises better efficiency, or at least a quicker process than the outdated version before it. Who wouldn’t be enthralled by the ability to get on your phone and swipe right for a date, order food or pay your bills without leaving your couch?
People have become reliant on technology, and it is not difficult to see why. All of the different kinds of applications available to users make life so much easier and accessible. You can look at exotic places and book trips all from your phone. If you are moving or need to redecorate, there is even an app where you can find inspiration for your future interior design.
Over time, you can become numb to the fact that you are turning to your phone for all of the answers. It is not your fault either, as the apps you have come to adore are designed to keep you coming back. Don’t feel guilty if you are struggling with pulling away from your device; it happens to everyone. People become zoned in to their phones or other devices way too easily and completely reject the outside world.
The biggest offenders are the media apps themselves. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and countless other programs claim to connect you to others, but, in reality, only isolate you from those around you. You might think that you are up to date with others, but really you’re just in everyone’s business all the time.
For example, why do you need to know what someone else is paying another person on Venmo? You don’t, so why is it being broadcasted? In the same vein, there’s no need to keep constant tabs on your ex, but if you see their Instagram story and then watch their feed on Snapchat, you have to then wait a while before watching anything else or you’ll risk looking like you’re stalking them.
Before you know it, your entire life is revolving around this fake life in your phone. You feel like a junky, and despite your best efforts to keep your phone in your pocket, you fail, but it’s not your fault. It can feel like there is no escape, and you might feel an obligation to stay connected to the artificial world, but there is so much for you if you just lift your head. You have options, and if you really want to change how you interact with your phone, how frequently you pick it up and check your media, here are some tricks to help you disengage.
1. Going Dark
As a way to avoid having your phone constantly light up, try turning off your notification alerts. By having your notifications turned off, your phone won’t buzz each time someone likes or comments on your posts.
The lack of vibrations from your phone will cause you to think less about the attention your post is getting over time. On the other hand, if you’re constantly wondering and checking your phone, maybe going dark is not for you.
2. Rules Are Rules
If simply ignoring your phone fails, try to make rules for your usage. Set parameters for how long you will use your phone on certain applications. Work within self-made limits where you know you will be successful.
For instance, if you know you will have a hard time avoiding taking a scroll through Instagram before bed, allocating some time to surf before hitting the hay is a smart move. If you find yourself unable to cut the cord completely, setting a timer for your online usage is also effective.
3. Not at the Dinner Table
Try to avoid using the apps while you are in the presence of your relatives, such as during dinner; they will appreciate you being more respectful. Older relatives do not understand phone addiction, so it is best to just be there with them.
Think about the people around you. If you are with family or at the dinner table, put your phone away, but make sure it’s not on the table. If your device is on the table, you will be thinking about checking it, so get it out of sight and be a part of the conversation.
4. Get a Hobby
Another method to help you kick your social media addiction is to find a new hobby. Most of the time, people scan on different social media apps because they are bored. If this is the case, try to find something you enjoy doing that isn’t lying in bed scrolling through your phone. You can even get your friends involved and take up that new hobby together.
Despite these suggestions, you will only see a change in your phone use if you work hard to produce one. It may seem difficult at first—breaking a habit always is—but consider how much more present in life you will be. Ultimately, the solution lies neither in complete abandonment or unbridled usage, but somewhere in between.
Growing up in the cell-phone era means learning to self-regulate your use, finding a happy spot that gratifies your desire to remain connected, while still allowing plenty of time for you to remain present in the world. So, put that phone down and get out there.