I am very much guilty of spending more or less two hours straight just on my phone. My phone addiction is so bad that there have been times where I had closed an app after thirty minutes of scrolling and unknowingly opened it again to do the same thing. I get separation anxiety when I can’t immediately open my phone after I hear it buzz with a new notification.
And I am not the only one who is addicted to their phone. Vox had released an interview with Tristan Harris, a former Google design ethicist, who explained how phones are actually designed to keep us constantly engaged. This manifests in certain features and functions in apps. The pull-to-refresh function can be likened to slot machines, which plays the anticipation of seeing new content that can possibly be related to ourselves. Infinite scrolling for these apps’ timelines or feeds also reduces our sense of control because it lacks visual cues to show how far we have gone in our usage.
Experts have even said that the high doesn’t come from the notification itself but rather the anticipation of it. The notification is built on the positive feeling of a slight sense of validation. However, not all the comments and likes we receive on our Facebook posts or retweets on Twitter give a genuine sense of validation. What happens then is that we become hinged on that possibility alone rather than the actual notification.
But there is a way to break out of this deep hole that we have fallen into. Sometimes, our jobs won’t allow us to completely go off the radar so here are just some tricks you can do to curb your phone addiction.
Know your phone usage
Catherine Price, author of How to Break Up With Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life, recommends to download apps that can monitor your phone usage, from the apps you spend most your time on to how many times you check your phone. This will help you pinpoint the reasons that really bring you to use your phone and take the necessary steps to reduce it.
Fix your notification settings
Vox identified that not all notifications are what they call “human” notifications. Although social media apps are designed to instigate social interactions, many of their notifications are subtle advertisements to draw the user back. Examples are receiving notifications on the tweets and stories that we have missed or how an event is happening nearby. We can immediately get rid of them while keeping the ones that are important to us in our phone settings.
Download a lock-out app
Aside from apps that monitor your phone usage, there are apps that can totally lock you out from distracting apps. This is quite specific for when we want to get as much work done as possible. We might think that being on our phone while working can be considered multitasking, but studies have shown that we actually waste more time doing so. But do not fret, these apps can adjust the lock-out time to gradually help you get over your phone addiction.
Restrict your home screen to everyday tools
You can trick your mind into avoiding social media apps by hiding them away from your home screen. Vox pointed out that our eyes naturally are drawn to the red color of notifications. Thus, Harris recommends that we limit our home screen to apps that we use every day for productivity or necessity, such as commuting apps or our email app.