Young Australians are increasingly becoming addicted to their smartphones. As technology progresses, more and more people are looking down at the world of information on their phone, rather than the world right in front of them. The fear of missing out has led to the compulsive use of smartphones and is resulting in people left feeling anxious if they can't check their phone regularly and losing sleep over it too. While this is concerning, there are several tips and tricks to help make smartphones less addictive.
Around 88% of Australians carry a phone in their pocket to surf the internet, check social media, post photographs, stream movies, text and occasionally call friends or family. Smartphones nowadays have become handier than ever in keeping us connected - a little too well. We're using our smartphones so much it's affecting not only sleep patterns but in turn our health and our relationships. When smartphone use impacts your daily functioning, it becomes unhealthy. It becomes harder to study, harder to sleep or exercise, and in some cases harder to concentrate on driving for the fear of missing out.
A recent study conducted by the Deakin University's School of Psychology has resulted in surprising findings. Dr Sharon Harwood, lead researcher and psychology lecturer found that:
- 40% of people surveyed felt lost without their phone,
- 34% lose sleep because of their smartphones, and;
- 54% found themselves distracted from tasks they should be doing because they were occupied on their phone.
With these statistics from nearly 400 undergraduate university students, we can see that problematic smartphone use is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue to public health. There are no doubt smartphones have changed the way we do things, but with the extensive amount of apps available to us at our fingertips, this is where it starts to become problematic. A developers job is to entice you to use their app, make you want to keep using their app and make you want to get others involved using their app as well. Apps such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram are all tools to keep you immersed and interactive instantaneously, so while we might not think of them as addictive devices, they could be fueling neuroticism in younger individuals. You can find out more about the study at Deakin University's School of Psychology here.
Even though smartphones are becoming harder to put down, or you might be starting to notice an unhealthy dependence on them in yourself or the people around you, don't fret because there are a few ways to reduce or prevent addictive smartphone use.
Disable Auto-Sync (Push Notifications)
Some smartphones, like Google and Apple, will allow you to pick what you're notified about. This will allow you to limit your distractions and you can choose to enable the few notifications that are important to you or gradually filter down the apps you use less often. On the other hand, you could go all-in and experience the pre-smartphone era by turning off all your app notifications so only calls and texts sound on your phone - just like back in the day when phones were only used for calls and texts.
Disable Active Display
Active display is available on some smartphones, and while you might think it's the best thing in the world, chances are you might still be getting display notifications or calendar details that aren't welcome at the time. Welcome or not, it provokes you to check your phone and see what the notification is. With your phone in hand, you're then likely to get distracted. Instead of letting your phone rest idle, constantly sending you information, turning off this feature will allow you to regain control of your day and stay on task.
Uninstall Social Media Apps
Keeping connected is great. But when keeping connected stops you from concentrating on the task at hand, perhaps it's time to ditch the media. According to Dr Harwood, social media platforms is one theory for why we become overly dependent on smartphone use. The ability to constantly stay online and stay connected provoke the fear of missing out, or FoMo, because we are constantly fed current information where it can easily get missed with the next feed update.
But don't worry, there's some middle ground to cutting back on social media. We're not saying to help you should go ahead and delete all your accounts, but by simply uninstalling the app from your phone, you remove the instantaneous connection. This promotes extra processes to be connected again by logging into your accounts through a web browser on your phone, laptop or desktop computer. You can still be connected when you want to be, it'll just take a couple more steps to get there (which isn't that bad), and should slow your need to constantly check social media.
Swapping Your Phone to Basic Mode
Basic mode is available on many Google phones and only grants you access to critical apps. Although it may take some time to adjust to the change, it might be a lifesaver when it comes to needing to accomplish or catch up on your tasks or goals. The less distracted you are, the more you achieve. Not to mention your battery life will greatly improve.
Changing the Display Accommodations
The technology being put into the screens of smartphones are more advanced than televisions and have the kind of processing power that gaming consoles contain. One way to make what you're viewing on your phone less compelling is to change the colour filters on your phone. These are installed to help the colour blind and aid users who have difficulty reading certain coloured texts on the display. Changing the colour filters on your phone to greyscale can be a helpful, temporary trick to keep you from being immersed in your phone. When you're so used to living in the world of colour, the black-and-white display is a bit less stimulating to the retinas. These filters can be accessed in the 'Settings' and 'Accessibility' menu.
Using Night Mode
What you might not know, is the artificial light emitted from your phone's screen is blue light.
You might be thinking, 'so what?'. Blue light, or lights with a cooler temperature, are disruptive because they put your body into alert mode because of the colours short wavelength. When you're using your phone in a pitch black room and have a beam of 'cool light' shining into your eyes, the last thing your body is concentrating on is going to sleep. This probably adds to the reason so many people lose sleep over using their phone. If you use your phone to relax before you go to bed, switching on 'Night Mode' from now on might just help you get to sleep sooner so you're not battling sleep deprivation and affecting your health.
While it's better altogether to not even touch your phone as you're trying to go to sleep or just before you go to sleep, it might be hard to do. Night Mode applies a warmer colour temperature to your phone's screen, minimising the effects the cooler temperature has on your body. Looking at the warmer tints of orange and red on your screen takes the strain off your eyes. What makes it better? Night Mode can be set to automatically activate at certain times between the night to morning to help make the process of winding down a lot easier and get you to sleep sooner.
With these simple tips and tricks, you'll hopefully feel less dependent on your smartphone and might start to notice an improvement in your sleep, achievements and overall health. Don't let the fear of missing out control you - take back control and curb smartphone addiction.