Make A Smart Decision: Limit Your Smartphone Use

We fill our days with ongoing connection, denying ourselves time to think and dream.
— Sherry Turkle

Without a doubt, smartphone addictions are problematic.  Rather than being present in the moment and looking inward for validation, many people are finding worth through the number of likes, streaks, and comments they receive online.  Social media is training us to compare our lives rather than experience our own.  As a result, smartphone and social media usage is being linked to increased feelings of depression and anxiety in the population.  

Excessive use of online gaming on the smartphone is also an issue.  In many games, quick responses are required in order to do well.  When we use this fight, flight, or freeze response again and again, we are programming our brain to react quickly to situations.  While it would be wonderful for our brain to be able to separate reactionary responses needed during online gaming from the way we respond to real world situations, our brain simply cannot differentiate the two.  Thus, when we take part in excessive online gaming, we are training our brain to use the lower level functioning part of our brain, a part of our brain that all animals have, rather than the higher functioning part of brain that is unique to humans.  As a result, rather than stopping and thinking before acting, we are training our brain to react with survival instincts.  

So how we do solve this dilemma?  Limit the amount of time that you spend on your smartphone.  This may require a schedule and accountability with others, but you can do it.  

Social media can be part of your life.  It is understandable that you value keeping up with friends online and doing this can strengthen bonds and relationships.  However, it is important to put the phone down.  Be present.  I bet you will never regret doing so.  Experience the life you have been gifted and take part in it.  This may require some additional help, such as setting screen time limits for yourself or your children.  This may feel uncomfortable, and you may experience quite a bit of resistance.  However, that resistance simply shows the amount of dependence felt towards the device. 

Also, keep in mind that there are several tools out there to help with the process of limiting the amount of time spent on screens.  Apps, such as Moment, BreakFree, and AppDetox, and tools, such as Circle by Disney, can help keep you and your family accountable to your agreed amount of time spent on the smartphone by setting timers, automatically turning off, and displaying the amount of time spent on the phone during the day.