Could you turn off your phone for twenty four hours?
Smart phones are ubiquitous, an essential component of modern life. You’re probably reading this on your phone right now. If not then you’re well behind trend. In the last year phones have overtaken laptops, desktops and tablets as the number one web browser of choice.
It’s not hard to see why. They’re stylish and convenient. You can whip them out at a moments notice. And they’re always on. Just a swipe of a finger and there, cradled in your palm, is a gateway to a virtual world of near limitless information and social networking opportunities.
Not to mention a handy calculator. And a torch. And an app to check the weather (so much easier than looking outside).
But there could be a downside to our love affair with these handy gadgets. The reports of a recent study into into phone usage discovered that the average person picks up their phone around 1500 times a week.
That’s 214 times a day. It seems we are all becomming smart phone addicts.
Now, take a moment to consider your phone use. Perhaps you reach for it first thing in the morning. Or you lull yourself into a stupor at night, scrolling through your Facebook feed.
How many times a day do you check Twitter, or Snapchat?
At a momentary loose end, do you find yourself Googling random questions, to which you already know the answer? Maybe when you are expecting an email you continually hit refresh, as though that very act will somehow encourage the email fairy to jolly well get a shift on. (We’ve all done that one, right?).
The first step to overcoming any addiction is to actually acknowledge that you have a problem. And if you are tempted at this point to stop reading or you mutter under your breath about ‘how you can’t see how being addicted to your phone could possibly be a problem’, then doesn’t that sound just a teensy bit like denial?
So ask yourself if you could turn off your phone for a whole twenty four hours. It sounds so easy and yet that very thought will have smart phone addicts breaking out in a cold sweat.
If that’s you, then relax. Take a deep breath. Chill.
No one’s about to suggest a ten step recovery plan that ends with you smashing up your phone before you abscond to a remote mountain location to eke out the rest of your existence herding goats, living in a cave and having really bad teeth.
But just consider why you may be spending so much of your finite existence staring at a little glowing screen.
Many addictions are chemical based. Research has shown that smart phone addiction is no different. When you pick up your oblong chum and find an email waiting, or a Facebook message from a friend, you get a rush of dopamine, the chemical transmitter that governs your pleasure response.
And so you are driven to check your phone, again and again, eager for the next hit. In essence it’s no different from the mechanism that drives fruit machine addicts.
Or Crack heads.
And no one actually wants to be a crack head, right?
Think about that next time you find your fingers twitching for your phone and ask yourself if you really need to pick it up.
Maybe try doing something else instead.
After all, it’s not likely that anyone is ever going to say on their death bed: ‘I wish I spent more time on my phone.’