Are you addicted to your phone?
Do you grab your phone the second it buzzes? Or check it every few minutes to see if anything new is happening? Do you tune out loved ones when you’re tuned in to your phone?
As great as phones are at connecting us to the world, the truth is, many of us use our devices in unhealthy ways. And that can have a negative impact on health, happiness and relationships.
Here are a few signs that you might need to tweak your tech habits—plus tips on how to strike a better balance.
You might be using your phone too much if…
Smartphone overuse isn’t just about how much time you spend on your device. The problem happens when phone use starts to interfere with everyday life. Here’s what that might look like:
- You have trouble finishing tasks at home or work. Is your to-do list piling up because you’re too busy texting or checking social media?
- Your social life is taking a hit. Maybe you lose track of in-person conversations because you’re on your phone. Or you’d rather chat with people online than in real life.
- You use your phone in secret. Your family, friends or boss have complained about your phone use. So you sneak off to use it in private—or lie about your usage.
- You’re afraid you might miss out. So you compulsively check your phone for news or updates—even in the middle of the night.
- You don’t feel right without your phone. You get anxious, cranky or uncomfortable if you forget your device at home or if the battery starts to die.
Take a fresh look at your phone time
If you think you might be overdoing it, try these tips to help you build healthier smartphone habits:
- Limit phone checks. Try stretching the amount of time between looks at your device. If you tend to look every 5 minutes, start by checking your phone every 15 minutes. Then gradually build up to every 30 minutes or every hour.
- Set tech-free times. Turn off your phone when you’re in a meeting, at dinner, spending time with family and, of course, driving. To avoid temptation, put it somewhere where you can’t see it, like another room or the glove box. And encourage others to do the same.
- Find other ways to fill your time. Reading a book, taking a walk or meeting a friend can keep you occupied when you’re bored or lonely. If you need to keep your hands busy, try doodling, knitting or squeezing a stress ball.
- Delete your apps. It might seem extreme, but you won’t be tempted to check your social media apps if they aren’t on your phone. Do daily check-ins on your computer instead. Not ready to make a clean sweep? Start by turning off notifications and alerts from your apps.
- Embrace face-to-face. Interacting in person delivers an emotional boost that we just can’t get from our devices. So try to do it more often! Meet up with friends or coworkers instead of texting. And look for ways to form new relationships—like joining a club, volunteering or playing a sport. Chances are, you’ll be glad you did.