I am happy to have Amy Williams on the blog today sharing a topic that I feel is a very important issue. Amy is a former social worker, specializing in teen behavioral health. As a parent of two teenagers, Amy is focused on spreading the word on positive parenting techniques and new technologies, particularly the combination of both topics.
It has been a longstanding joke in our family that my Smartphone is another member of our family; she is usually within inches of my person at all times.
I use my Smartphone to keep on top of our family’s insane schedule of practices, work, meetings, birthday parties, and more. I rely on it to check our bank balance, pay the bills, surf for coupons, and make reservations. With minimal effort, I am able to text my teens about dinner and their whereabouts. It is evident that this shiny rectangle plays a vital role in how I manage our family.
A recent out-of-town excursion shed some light on how I rely on my phone for work and social obligations. It was during that weekend away when the realization hit… I am addicted to my Smartphone.
Somehow in all the excitement of packing, my Smartphone was left charging on the kitchen counter. A few miles down the highway, realizing my error, I began pleading to turn back around. In that moment, I was panicking and tasting the first bitter realization that I might have a problem.
At first I was able to write it off and cover my anxiety, but after a few measly hours I was in trouble. I found myself driving to McDonald’s and hotel parking lots desperately trying to access free wi-fi. I was so preoccupied with hitting a hotspot, that during red lights I was seeking networks instead of nagging my husband about his city driving skills.
Yes, the joke was on me.
Signs of Smartphone Addiction
In this day and age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to not rely on technology and all the conveniences it offers. Smartphones have simplified our lives, but they have also nurtured our dependency on vibrations, glows, and instant messages. There is even a scientific name describing this phenomena: nomophobia.
If you know someone or feel that you might be suffering from Smartphone addictions, here are a few symptoms to be on the lookout for:
- Sometimes they have a hard time going a few minutes without peeking at their phone.
- They have perfected hiding their phone under tables and in their pockets to sneak in a text.
- Anxiety and worries overwhelm their senses when they aren’t near their Smartphone.
- They grab for their phone the minute they wake up and it’s the last thing they see before falling asleep.
Smartphone addiction affects many people from all across the globe. Over 1.8 billion people own Smartphones and one study found the average owner checks their screen 150 times a day. Considering those numbers, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when 44% of people admit feeling anxious when they can’t access their phone.
Thankfully, we aren’t left to our own devises as we jonesy for one more peek at Social Media, just a little more data, or a frantic search to hijack a wi-fi signal. Scientists have been compiling data and formulating some suggestions to help modern families avoid the pitfalls of Smartphone addiction.
Listed below are a few techniques to help lessen the lure of a digital device:
- Set aside time once a day that is dedicated to use a Smartphone. Browse Social Media, message friends, or snap a few photos. Limiting interactions to this special hour allows addicts to reclaim the rest of her day for other activities.
- Create “no phone zones”. Designate certain areas of the house (bedrooms, bathrooms, and the dinner table) off limits to technology and phones.
- Avoid using phones before bed or stashing it by the bed. The soft light interrupts sleep’s natural rhythms and ringtones can interfere with a good night’s rest.
Dialing Back The Control
I learned the hard way that I was growing dependent on instant updates and information at the touch of a screen. I don’t think I was in need of a 12 Step Program, but that weekend away from my Smartphone was a real eye opener. I hadn’t reached a critical level of addiction, but I was slowly inching my way there.
By dialing back on my Smartphone usage, I was able to gain back valuable freedom and face-to-face personal interactions. My family still occasionally taunts me about my “other child”, but I have managed to cut the cord and keep my data usage in check.