Are We Addicted To Our Smartphones?

Smartphones have not only become a device we can use in business by way of accessing emails, calls and web portals, but a gadget that allows us to navigate cities, play games and track our health and fitness. The majority of us feel like we have lost a limb when we do not have our phone with us, and we now have no excuse for not being contactable at any time of the day.

"Handcuff and Locked With Smart Phone" (CC BY 2.0) by Jangra Works
“Handcuff and Locked With Smart Phone” (CC BY 2.0) by Jangra Works

While technology companies are reaping in billions from developing their smartphones, how many of us have actually become addicted to them? A revealing survey from Voucherbox has shown that 77% of us even take our handset companion to the toilet! The numbers go off the roof with millennials, with a massive 87% always taking their phone to the bathroom. It was no wonder then that another study, led by the University of Derby in 2015, claimed that 13% of us are addicted to our phones, with the average user spending 3.6 hours per day on their device.

Is it healthy?

Some of us worry that smartphones are taking over our lives, with a possible negative impact on our behaviour. Perhaps our relationships suffer because we stop having so many face-to-face conversations and choose to text instead. We also have the temptation to pick up our phones when we should be going to sleep. In 2014 the University of Sussex carried out a study which reported that the pressure of multitasking with smartphones was causing anxiety, poor attention span and depression. Neuroscientist Kep-Kee Loh, who co-wrote the study, has increasing concerns about the impacts that smartphones have on users’ cognition and social-emotional wellbeing. As a consequence, there is a long list of questions about the dangers presented by smartphones, but couldn’t the advantages override the inconvenients? In the end, it’s all a matter of common sense and self-management.

"Taking a photo of Christmas tree" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Takashi(aes256)
“Taking a photo of Christmas tree” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Takashi(aes256)

Managing your business smartphone

Thanks to smartphones we can work from a remote location, merge our diaries and have several options for file sharing. But what happens when you feel obliged to check emails or reports out of your normal working hours? There is certainly a strong need to find a healthy work-life balance – being able to switch off from business responsibilities is paramount to our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Ideally, we should have two phones – one for personal use and one for work – but this isn’t always the case, especially for people who run their own business. Learning to be strict with yourself so that you can switch off and have family time or time for yourself is imperative when you feel that addictive need to check emails at weekends or evenings. Remember if something is urgent and cannot wait until the next working day, you are more likely to get a phone call.

Learn to switch off!

  • Out of reach: Where is your phone? If your phone is always by your side when you’re chatting to friends or watching TV, you won’t be able to break the bad habit of constantly picking it up and checking it, which most of us do automatically. Leave your phone in a different room.
  • Reading: If you feel like a part of you is missing without your phone it may be because you are constantly used to looking or reading something on screen. Get the latest thriller on paper and escape from the screen for some good old-fashioned reading – it is much healthier for the eyes.
  • Get outside: Too many of us have become lazy as smartphones offer so much at our fingertips. Leave your phone at home, go for a walk and enjoy some fresh air to clear the cobwebs and get some exercise. Even if it’s only for 30 minutes a day, it will do you the world of good.
  • Be strict: Limit your usage of your phone. Start by checking your phone stats to see how long you generally spend on there – it may be a scary sight! And believe it or not, there are some apps which will block access to social networks, set daily limits and filter communications.
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