How many times a day do you look at your phone? To check your email, see if you received a new text, or maybe a notification from Facebook or Instagram? Is it 2, 5, or even 10 times a day? Or how about how many times an HOUR do you check your phone? For most of us, it’s more likely that we need a reality check for how many times an hour we are picking up our mobile devices.
Phone addiction is a real thing and a serious issue for many people. My phone tells me at the end of each week on average how many hours a day I have spent using it. It is shocking and embarrassing! On average most people who own a cell phone spend more time on their phone each day than they spend eating and drinking.
There are so many things on our phones to distract us. Some of them are necessary and even important, but many, if not most, are time-wasters. We use our phones to pass the time when we are bored and even to “check out” when things are stressful. These are unhealthy habits that we form when we begin to overuse our phones and even turn to our phones for comfort when we are feeling bored, frustrated, uncomfortable, or lonely.
God designed us to need other people and to be in community with others. Some elements of our phones can help us do just that, but it can also completely isolate and alienate us from others. So what do we do?
1) The first step is recognizing you have a problem. Congratulations, you realize you need to make a change!
2) Put your phone away. Designate a place when you walk in the door where you are going to set your phone and just leave it there. When you go out to dinner with friends, leave it in the car or put it in your purse on silent and zip it up! The world will not implode if you don’t check your phone over the hour and a half you are at dinner.
3) Silence notifications. You can turn off receiving notifications for email, Facebook, Instagram, and other apps you might have beeping to get your attention. You can also put your phone on “do not disturb” or “airplane mode” during certain time frames to help you be more focused and less distracted.
4) Set limits. Maybe start with allowing yourself to check your phone once an hour, but give yourself 15 minutes and then put it up. Wean yourself off of just using your phone as a time waster.
5) Replace a bad habit with something better. Find something else productive or enjoyable to do when you find yourself wanting to pick up that phone and scroll aimlessly through social media or check your email again. Maybe take a quick walk around the office or keep a book (you know those things made of paper with pages) close by to read a page or two instead of checking Instagram.
It may take some time to not feel the need to impulsively grab your phone to see what is happening on your favorite social media site, but you can do it! You may need to actually unplug for a set amount of time to start the weaning process. Some people set aside one day a week where they completely unplug.
Do whatever it takes to regain control over your time and your mind. Addiction to our cell phones rob us of precious time and attention that could be spent building authentic face-to-face relationships. It also certainly interferes with our focus on the Lord and time spent communicating with Him. There are many, many positive uses for our cell phones and apps that can help us grow in the Lord; but when the phone itself becomes an addiction, our priorities need to be realigned.
What is one way you can make an effort this week to put down the cell phone and make a meaningful connection with God and others?