Addicted to My Phone? Part 2
In the last issue of Far Above Rubies, we discussed how cell phone addiction is a real problem in our world today. Maybe you recognized some symptoms of addiction in your own life. Even if you didn’t, I hope that you will be willing to consider ways that you can keep it from becoming a problem. We all have and use cell phones; we need to be sure that we keep them under control. When it comes to helping our kids, we need to be well-versed in this area. If you have teenagers (or will in a few years), recognize that they will be far more susceptible to being addicted if YOU ARE!
What should you do if you think you have a problem? There are a lot of solutions. Perhaps the biggest and hardest step is realizing that you might have an addiction to your phone, and deciding to do something about it. That’s where it all has to start. Here are some suggestions to consider:
- Find an app that tracks your usage, especially for how long you spend on each app each day. You might be surprised!
There are lots of options out there that track and report different things. I’ve been using one called “Quality Time,” for the last few months. I like that it gives me a little notification each morning of the previous day’s usage, telling me how long I was on my phone and how many times I unlocked my screen. If I notice a big jump in time, I can open it up and it tells me exactly how long I spent on each app. There are also options to set my phone to automatically lock me out (except for emergencies), once I am on for a certain length of time, or just to block certain times of the day. This would be a big help, if you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media. Set your phone to automatically lock you out after a few minutes, or to block you from social media apps, except for certain times of the day (maybe after the kids are in bed).
- Turn off notifications. I’m personally quite annoyed when apps are always sending me notifications, and I get great joy out of turning off all their little alarms. I want to use apps when I want to use them; I don’t want to be a slave to always having to click when they beep at me. I’ve also found it quite liberating to turn off the sound of text messages. There is no harm in getting back to someone within a couple of hours, rather than a couple of minutes. Being able to check and respond to texts on my own time (not being constantly interrupted from a vibrating phone) is actually quite freeing! Most phones have settings that you can customize, to block almost everything except maybe one person. I like knowing when my husband is texting or calling, so that I can get right back to him; everything else can wait until I have the free time to sit down and respond.
- Take a break. Maybe you need to take a complete break from social media. I know a lot of people like to do this periodically, especially over the holiday season. Set two weeks or a month, when you basically go offline. It can be very refreshing! If you think you might have trouble logging back in mindlessly, ask your husband to change your passwords for you and not tell you what they are for the time period you set up.
Maybe you need to take a break from your phone altogether! Leave it at home for a day, or an afternoon, or put it in the console of your car and don’t take it out, unless you have an emergency. Often, we keep our phones around because they do so much for us from morning until night: alarm clock, calendar, to-do list, camera, and of course, a way of communicating. Pull out some of those old dinosaurs and “replace” your phone for a few days. Set up an actual alarm clock and leave your phone in the kitchen. When you wake up first thing in the morning, take time to hug your husband and not check your email. Take your big camera along to the park with your kids, and leave your phone in the car. While a phone is so convenient because it fills so many needs, that is also one of its drawbacks: it offers so many distractions.
- Figure out WHY you are doing it. Do you pick up your phone because you are bored, stressed, anxious, or worried? There might be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed in your life, and you’ve just found that using your cell phone is a good way to block that problem out.
If you are anxious or worried, and using your phone is a distraction, find a Bible verse that you can memorize that speaks to your need. Write it on a card and tape it to the back of your phone. When you would pick up your phone to distract yourself, read through and meditate on that verse, instead.
If you are picking up your phone because you are bored, consider a hobby that can be picked up and put down multiple times a day, like knitting or crocheting! A few hours of “free time” with your new hobby will give you something useful to do with your time.
- Set family rules. We need to teach our kids good habits. Set up zones in the house or times of day that are technology-free, for everyone. Good places for this would be keeping all screens out of bedrooms and the dining room. Good times for this would be first thing in the morning, when everyone is trying to get out the door, or during meals, and at night right before retiring. Encourage your kids to talk to you, or play a game with each other, instead. Most importantly, lead by example in this area!
Everybody knows that screens of all kinds hinder conversation, distract kids, and can also interrupt sleep patterns. Take control of the devices in your house by setting up rules for them.
I think this is an area where we all have room for improvement! Although I have already implemented several of these things in my life, I know that I can do better. Since the first installment of this article two months ago, I’ve been more consistently tracking my phone usage, and also paying attention to when and why I use my phone. Our technology can be so useful to us, but we need to be in control of it, and not the other way around!