In today’s world, we are all constantly on the move, utilizing technology to stay connected. We are encouraged by society to keep up with the latest trends, information, communication, and entertainment which is at our fingertips from the moment we wake up. It’s no surprise that Smartphones have become a major part of our lives and for many of us, it can be almost impossible to not be checking our phone. We are becoming so attached to the idea of being able to access this information that it’s almost as if we can’t get through the day without looking at it. This obsession is known as “nomophobia” (an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia”) and it is becoming prevalent in our society. There are many factors that contribute to this unhealthy “phone checking” behavior, but some of the primary reasons include Fear of Missed Opportunities, the Pressure to Stay Connected, the Fear of Being Alone and a Need for Social Validation.
Fear of Missed Opportunities
Humans, by nature, are inquisitive and driven to seek and build opportunities, and technology has opened up doors to discover and explore new possibilities. The fear of missing out on any potential opportunities and not having the latest information has led us to checking our phones more often, even if it means being distracted in the process. Additionally, businesses and employers have adopted the use of mobile apps to deliver their services. Therefore, the expectation to be available 24/7, often runs among our peers and colleagues which lends to this Fear of Missed Opportunities.
Pressure to Stay Connected
With the increased use of technology, it’s commonplace for many people to be available and connected at all times. We have come to expect a response, if not instantly, then within a few minutes to our inquiries, messages, and emails. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on us to always be available and access our phones to stay connected. Moreover, the expectation of being available and connected even when we are not in the office increases our need to check our phones and stay connected all the time.
Fear of Being Alone
Staying connected can also be correlated to the Fear of Being Alone. Checking our phones all the time gives us a false sense of company through our peers, even if they aren’t physically with us. Staying connected and available helps us avoid being alone and lonely, as well as being left out of activities/conversations that are going on elsewhere.
Need for Social Validation
In addition to staying connected to our peers, we also find ways to seek validation from them through posts, comments, or likes. By constantly checking our phone and engaging in social media interactions, we are validating our own worth through external feedback. The need for recognition and affirmation from the outside world has us checking our phones for feedback constantly.
How to Quit Checking Your Phone
Luckily, there are many ways to overcome unhealthy phone checking habits and become more mindful and intentional about when and why you use your phone. Start off by pausing before every time you reach for your phone. Ask yourself why you are checking it and remind yourself that it is not necessary to check it every time. If you want to try going completely cold turkey, you can completely disable notifications and remove certain apps from your device. Many phone applications also offer features to limit your phone usage such as an “off-time” that locks you out of certain features or a “do not disturb” mode.
The following are some other tips that can help you break the unhealthy phone checking behavior:
• Delete unnecessary apps: If you find yourself using certain apps more than necessary, such as social media or gaming apps, it’s best to limit your access to them. Delete those that are unnecessary to free up the time and energy you would have used for them.
• Set time limits for each day: Spending too much time on your phone can be a waste and a distraction from the world around you. Set a limit of how long you are going to use your phone every day and stick to it. Follow the rule to not use your phone for more than an hour, or set an alarm to remind yourself of when it’s time to put down the phone.
• Try a Phone Blocker: If you find yourself too distracted by your phone, try using a phone blocker. Many mobile applications and programs can help you manage your phone usage and avoid excessive distraction.
• Unplug and take a break: Sometimes, it’s best to just go outside and unplug. Connect with nature and the world around you and take a break from the tech life. Allow yourself to disconnect from the virtual world, and find joy and adventure in the real world around you.
In conclusion, the increasingly connected world we live in has made it almost impossible for us to avoid always checking our phones. Despite the distractions and pressures of technology, there are ways for us to become mindful and intentional users of our phones. By removing unnecessary apps, setting time limits, using phone blockers, and taking a break we can prevent ourselves from becoming too obsessed with our phones and lead a healthier lifestyle.