3 Subtle Ways Your Smartphone Keeps You Hooked
Whether you consider yourself to be truly hooked on your smartphone or not at all, you have to admit that at times, it really is difficult to put the darn thing down.
There are the obvious ways to deal with unhooking yourself—like putting your phone on silent, taking time to unplug on the weekend, consciously disciplining yourself to avoid checking it when you’re with other people and even going as far as to uninstall apps that are too tempting to ignore.
Those are all effective strategies you can employ to help change your behavior, but you can just as easily get reeled back into your old habits if you’re not careful. In fact, some of the ways you’re continuing to use your smartphone, even if you think you’re doing it wisely, may be making it harder for you to fight your addiction.
Here are just three subtle mistakes you might be overlooking.
When you get up: Using your smartphone as an alarm clock triggers you to start checking your email, texts, social networks and other apps right away.
Too many people reach for their smartphones the moment they wake up. It may seem convenient and totally harmless to use the alarm feature on your phone to help get you up in the morning, but what most people don’t even realize is that they’re inviting themselves to immediately start checking all their messages and apps before they’ve had time to roll out of bed, energize themselves and consciously process what needs to get accomplished that day.
It’s worse than it probably seems. After all, what could be so bad about checking a couple of emails and your Facebook news feed for five minutes before you find the strength to get up?
The fact is that this type of stimulation first thing in the morning puts your mind in a reactive state, as opposed to conscious and controlled—making it all the more difficult for you to avoid checking your phone a million times throughout the day.
If you’re fine with putting stress on yourself as soon as you wake up and are okay with setting yourself up for a day of impulsive behavior, then that’s fine. If not, then it’s time to get a real alarm clock and keep your smartphone out of your bedroom.
Throughout the day: App developers want you to use their apps as much as possible, which is why they’ve built loads of notifications into them designed to interrupt you as often as they can, all day long.
Apps are fun, aren’t they? But there’s just one big problem with them. Developers don’t really care as much about what you need to do today as they do about how they can entice you to use their apps every day, multiple times a day.
That’s why they’ll ask for your permission to send you notifications so that they can interrupt you with new alerts, messages, rewards, reminders, points and whatever else. Whether you’re aware of it or not, all those notifications are giving you an excuse to check your phone more often.
Make sure you disable those notifications in your app settings. If any new apps that you download ask for your permission to send you notifications, don’t give in.
Before you go to bed: The blue light emitted from your smartphone’s screen confuses your brain at night so that it thinks it’s still daytime, making it harder for you to fall asleep and more tempting to keep your eyes glued to your smartphone even longer into the night.
The amount of light you’re exposed to during the day influences your circadian rhythm—the physical, mental and behavioral shifts your body makes over the course of a 24-hour cycle. Unfortunately, your eyes can’t tell the difference between natural light and the artificial blue light from all the screens you look at when it should be dark at night.
Light exposure suppresses melatonin secretion, a hormone necessary for sleep regulation, which could explain why you have such a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep after staring at your smartphone too close to bedtime. So instead of lying in bed with nothing to stare at but the ceiling while waiting to feel drowsy, you might be tempted to wait it out by spending even more time on your smartphone.
The solution for this is simple. Not only should you ban all smartphones or devices with screens from the bedroom, but you should also gives yourself a cut-off time with using them at least a half hour to an hour before you plan to go to bed.
Technology is wonderful, but we all have to learn how to manage our habits responsibility. It’s far too easy to turn something so useful into quite the opposite.
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Photo Credit: Gabriela Pinto