Yesterday, I removed the email account from my iPhone, allowed the battery to run completely flat and shoved it on top of the bookshelf out of sight.
The blessed relief was overwhelming.
I never thought that I would fall into the iPhone trap and certainly wasn’t an early adopter. Nor was my addiction ever particularly severe. I was very happy to leave the phone at home and go camping, rarely used it on public transport and always left it on silent to avoid being interrupted.
I was still using my phone too much. Sure, I may not be as addicted as some, but in my own way I was still allowing my phone to interrupt my time, space and mental energy.
A while ago, my little girl and I were catching the train back to our accommodation with 10 other people in the compartment. Every single one of them was engrossed in a screen, so engrossed that not one had a spare moment to return the enormous cheesy grins that were beaming out from our pram. My daughter’s expression went from joyful, to confused and ended at devastated as not one person spared a second to connect with her.
Upon watching this unfold, I at first congratulated myself on not being as obsessed as others. But then I realised that my little one knows how to activate Siri and make the picture on the screen come up, but is yet to learn her ABC’s. Her interest in the phone has been created through my interest in it and she regularly has to compete with an inanimate object for attention as I check the weather, read new emails and delight in blog posts.
I’m certainly not Robinson Crusoe here. A 2012 survey by Harvard Business School showed that more than 70% of people check their smart phones within an hour of getting up, 51% check continuously during vacations and 44% said that they would experience a ‘great deal of anxiety’ if they lost their phone.
Compare this to the very small percentage of people that engage in mindful behaviours such as yoga or meditation within an hour of getting up and it becomes apparent that smart phone use has infiltrated our lives far more than any other habit.
The next time that you go to check your phone, stop and ask yourself; what messages are you missing as you gaze at the screen? Is updating your Facebook status ‘bored, on train’ more important than a moment of connection with a stranger that may alleviate that boredom?
Unplugging, even temporarily, provides us with a reprieve from the exhaustion of hyper-connectivity.
Breaking the Addiction
If you are sick of feeling shackled to your smart phone, try some of the following;
• Leave the phone at home while you go for a walk.
• Remove your email account from your phone (let’s face it, the world probably won’t end if you don’t respond within 5 minutes)
• Have a phone free weekend – let the battery die on Friday, put the phone in the top of a cupboard and don’t recharge until Sunday night.
• Smile at a stranger, gaze out the window, focus on your breathing and meditate, or (if you’re really bold) strike up a conversation the next time you are on public transport
• Banish all phones from the dinner table (really, does this even need to be said?)
• Get an alarm clock and banish the phone from your bedroom. Watching Youtube, updating Facebook and Tweeting are not conducive to a restful sleep.
I’d love to know if smart phone addiction is a problem for you. What strategies can you suggest?