In this age of endless information, have we become too reliant on our pocket computers? Shiny, ever-beeping, always engaging, and constantly at our fingertips… are our phones taking up too much of our personal time? Recent data from the popular time-tracking app Moment found the average person spends at least four hours a day staring at their phone screen. Some people even check their phones during intercourse.
In her new book, How to Break up with Your Phone, Author Catherine Price discusses how checking our phones is not only an addictive behavior but one that may lead to less satisfaction with our lives in general. Each minute spent mindlessly playing on our phones is a moment taken away from other opportunities, hobbies, friends, and family. When those moments add up to four or more hours a day, the toll on our personal lives can be alarmingly high. Price mentioned during an interview with Recode that she finds this data particularly disturbing, “To me, that was a really striking number. That’s a quarter of our waking lives.”
Price’s research indicated that our brains are not hardwired to maintain focus. As a survival mechanism, it’s important to notice things happening outside our field of focus so as to alert us to danger or approaching hazards. When seeing something that is interesting or worth remembering, the brain releases dopamine to tell the rest of the body that whatever caused the release of chemicals is important. If what caused that trigger happens to be your phone, your brain is training you to believe your phone is important and to keep checking it.
Price came to the realization she was spending an unhealthy amount of time on her phone when she was scrolling through eBay while nursing her newborn baby. In a moment that would otherwise have been tender and beautiful, she found herself searching for Victorian era door knobs rather than building a deeper emotional connection to her newborn daughter. This moment was the start of Price’s mission to establish better boundaries with her phone.
Some of her best tips? Spend more time on your life and less time on your phone. Delete social media apps, which are designed to keep you endlessly scrolling, and use the old-school browser version instead. Create what Price refers to as “speed bumps,” visual or tangible cues intended to slow you down and create awareness of what you’re doing. These can be as simple as a rubber band around your phone or going so far as to set a screen lock which asks if you are sure you want to proceed. Whatever approach you choose, her overriding message is clear, “This is your life. How much of it do you want to spend on your phone?”
By Patricia Miller
Images Courtesy of Pixabay