You’ve only got to jump on a train or walk into a family home on any given night of the week to notice the ‘phonedemic’ that has progressively spread throughout the world since Motorola got the ‘ball rolling’ in 1973. The real surge began in the 90’s, where mobile users were around the 11million mark. It is now around 2.5 billion.
We call them ‘smart phones’ and in many ways they have become just a natural part of life and in many ways they are ‘smart’. They can save time, improve efficiency and enable multitasking. You can contact emergency services, have your office in your pocket, check the stock market etc etc etc. But along with the positives of smart phones, there are definite negatives. Physically, people are developing muscular and skeletal issues such as ‘text neck syndrome’, a repetitive stress injury caused by leaning forward for extended periods of time. Additionally, I have noticed several people who have developed a constant posture that seems to resemble the ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame. Mentally, overuse of smart phones is disastrous. People who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, suffer anxiety and depression, and be lonely. This ain’t necessarily smart!
Something that I see a lot of in the therapy room ( 3 times today in fact), is the effects of smart phones on relationships. The facts around ‘phubbing’ (the practice of snubbing others in favour of our mobile phones) are deeply disturbing, particularly in the way it can effect your relationship with your life partner. Research has discovered that phubbing increases conflict, lowers marital satisfaction, increases the effects of depression and literally leaves partners feeling unheard, disrespected, lonely and disregarded. It also sets into motion a vicious cycle of ‘phubbing’ each other, out of mutual dissatisfaction and loneliness. It may often seem like a small infraction, but phubbing is a ‘death by a thousand cuts’. Little experiences of betrayal on repeat cycle.
How To Stop
The primary key to stopping smartphone overuse and phubbing is awareness. To be aware of the ill effects of it and awareness of the fact that human beings are deeply relational. Our relational nature demands that in some way we ‘connect’. In the absence of connecting meaningfully with a person, we will invariably connect with something else, in this case a phone.
- When you get home, leave your phone in a dock. If you use it- you have to go to it.
- Be intentional about connecting with people
- Get creative about connection, do something new, take up a joint hobby
- Go places without your phone (if your over 30 you have probably experienced survival without one)
- If you feel a sense of anxiety when you don’t have your phone with you (be honest), feel the fear and do it anyway!