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7 Positive Changes You Can Make in Your Phone Use Habits

phone_use

By Lorie Kleiner Eckert
 

I remember when email was new. I had to write myself a note to check it twice a week. Currently, this is my routine: I wake up, pick up my iPhone, take it to the bathroom with me where I check email, then Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If I need to sit there a bit longer, I may go around the EFITL circuit again to see if anything changed even though I know that’s ridiculous. Every time I pick up the phone for any reason – to answer a text, to answer a phone call, to put an event on my calendar, etc. I am tempted to check the EFITL circuit. I know this is crazy and I think it is emotionally harmful as well.

 

According to an article on Pocket-Lint from September 2018, the folks behind my iPhone are worried about this too. In 2017, to absolve themselves of responsibility for those who choose to drive and text, they instituted a Do Not Disturb feature while you are driving. In 2018 they introduced Apple Screen Time as they looked “to address growing concerns around increasing device usage, smartphone addiction, and social media impacting on mental health.”

Apple Screen Time tells you how many hours a week you on are your device. Last week my results were as follows: 8 hours and 10 minutes were spent on social networking, 1 hour and 50 minutes in reading and reference, and 2 hours and 17 minutes in productivity. For someone who is always stressed about needing an extra hour in the day (see my recent blog on having too much to do), I just found an entire work day! All I need to do is curb my use of social media.

 

Beyond being a huge time suck, there are other ways that social media can be emotionally harmful.

  • It skews our perception of reality because our friends only post the highlights of their life while we must live the highs and lows of our own. By comparison, we can feel inadequate.

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  • Then there is the issue of the number of friends-followers-connections we have. It is easy to look at this count as a popularity contest. And when someone unfriends-unfollows-disconnects, it is easy to take it personally.

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  • This leads to the main question about social media – is it really social? It’s a great way to stay in touch with minor acquaintances like past school friends and distant relatives, but a very inadequate way of maintaining important relationships. If you find yourself with hundreds of social media friends yet no one with whom to share a meal on a weekend, you have proven how isolating social media can be.

There are other aspects of the Internet and device usage that can lead to depression:

  • Let’s look at e-mail, for example. Before the internet, if I was watching for something to come in the mail, I could only be disappointed once a day, and never on Sunday. But with the advent of email, each and every second of each and every day can bring disappointment. Another huge problem with email is that it just keeps coming. I have a never-ending group of flagged posts that need my attention. That’s overwhelming to my to-do list and my psyche.

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  • Sleep disturbance is another issue that comes hand in hand with internet use. In a Weight Watchers article on wellbeing, Dr. James Phelps, MD is quoted. He reminds us that, “all screens emit blue light, which interferes with our body’s natural circadian rhythm, disrupting our sleep.” He further explains that a loss of sleep can lead to anxiety and depression and recommends we give up all electronic use for a full two hours before bedtime.

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  • My friends and their use of devices can also bring me pain. Am I the only one who feels that some friends respond to too many text messages when we are together when they could be responding to me instead?

In today’s world, the use of electronics is mandatory. Beyond phone calls, email, and text messages, I use it repeatedly to check everything from the weather to the correct spelling of words. So I can’t give it up completely, but I can take steps to control my usage. Here is what I am thinking:

  • A book – or the day’s snail mail – will accompany me to the bathroom, not my phone.

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  • I will only check social media a few times a day.

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  • To help with this, I will turn off all social media notifications.

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  • I am going to read and respond to email twice daily instead of having it disrupt my life ALL. DAY. LONG.

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  • Except for GPS, I will absolutely not use my phone while driving.

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  • I will likewise ban phone usage when I am with my kids, grandkids, or friends because I owe it to them to be present.

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  • To be sure that my brain is on sleep mode by my 11:00 bedtime, I will shut off all devices by 9:00 PM. (Goodbye eBooks, hello hard copies – and more restful sleep.)

I often say that once I know I have a problem, I can solve it. I truthfully did not know I had one until Apple Screen Time proved it. I am lucky that my bad habits did not turn into an addiction and that this list of changes – though lengthy – is actually doable with the help of one magic ingredient: I have to pay attention to my choices!

 

 
About the Author

Lorie Kleiner Eckert thinks of herself as a cheerleader with the message, life is difficult, but you can do it! She has cheered people on through her work as a motivational speaker, as an award-winning columnist, and as an artist who makes quilts with words and symbols pieced into the design. She also has three books in print through Pelican Publishing Company. To learn more about Lorie, check out her website/blog/newsletter; or see her motivational artwork printed out on giftware on Etsy; or follow her or Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

 

How can we unglue ourselves from our phones? Here are 7 positive changes you can easily make when it comes to phone use habits.

 

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