Want to break your phone addiction? It is too late. (2023)

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, the Internet was mostly confined to a desktop. You had to use your clunky desktop computer to connect to the internet and as soon as you left, you were offline again. But the advent of smartphones – along with the rise of broadband, better access to Wi-Fi and data plans – meant people could always be online.

At the time, Apple was focused on how the device would enable users to read email, surf the web and listen to music on the go. Compared to everything we use our phones for today—from ordering food to finding our way around new cities—Apple's introductory pitch sounds strange. As the Great Internet became mobile, it began to penetrate all areas of our lives. Today, 97% of Americans areappointmenthave a smartphone, and 58% believe they use it too often.

After more than a decade of growing ubiquity, people are beginning to reckon with the negative effects of smartphones, especially their addictive nature. This has led to increasing pressure to limit smartphone use, especially after the early shutdowns caused by the pandemic caused people to spend more time online. But the new wave of smartphone rejection faces a serious problem.

While we recognize the downsides of overusing smartphones, the world around us is increasingly designed to force us to use them for essential tasks. In many ways, we have integrated devices into our lives so thoroughly that it has become impossible to free ourselves from them.

Get rid of the little rectangle

When smartphones first came out, everyone was focused on the cool things their new gadgets could do. Questions about screen limitations or the potential impact on children were drowned out by "oohs" and "aahs" as people cringed at the latest features handed down from the gods of Silicon Valley. But now that they're addicted to their screens, people are finally starting to pay attention to the questions many doubters asked years ago.

First, the design of the most popular applications, with features such as swipe refresh and infinite scrolling, is based onfareWmachinesto make sure people get the dopamine kick that keeps them coming back. This has led to the use of smartphonesaffect people's sleep schedules. And the overuse of social media—in part due to addictive engagement metrics that people take as an indicator of self-worth—has led toadverse effects on mental health,especially on teenagers.

Lola Shub said one of the direct benefits of using a flip phone is the moments of silence every time she pulls out her smartphone.

This not only affects people's personal lives but also their professional lives. With almost everyone on their devices at all times, more and more employers expect us to be ready to respondTo reportze-dogat all times of the day - even if we don't get overtime pay for it. And when we work, we can staycomes from the task being performedthrough pushy notifications or the addictive appeal of social media.

This has meant that a whole holiday home industry has sprung up with tips on how to get rid of the compulsion to check phones, fromTurn off notificationsand set application timeouts toblock accessfor some apps and buy oneanother "dumb" phone. Device manufacturers and application developersjumped in with featuresthemselves and expect us to ignore how they caused the problem. In an article last year for Insider, Brooklyn high schooler Lola Shub wrote about a group she formed with friends affectionately known asz Luddietenklubu. Club members are trying to reduce the use of smartphones, and some have even switched to flip phones. Shub said one of the direct benefits of using a flip phone was the moments of silence every time she pulled out her smartphone. She acknowledged that it could be difficult for some people, but noted that her thoughts and memories became more vivid, saying "it's great to practice and learn how to do it." In December, The New York Times reported that the trend wasspread to other schoolsi New York.

While hopeful, these individual solutions don't work for everyone. Sure, people may try to limit their smartphone use during downtime, but when it comes to completely eliminating these addictive devices, we've built a world where true freedom is nearly impossible.

To impose smartphones on society

In 2018, Amazon introduced a new retail concept: AmazonGo. Convenience stores offered the basics and some ready meals, but with a twist: there were no cashiers. To enter the store, customers must download a separate app, link it to their Amazon account, load a credit card and swipe to the location. Once a customer has passed through these hoops and entered the store, cameras covering every inch of the facility track what customers remove from the shelves, so you can pay as soon as they leave—no human interaction required. Although it was supposedly more convenient (and cheaper for Amazon than hiring cashiers), the technological hurdles made many potential customers decide it just wasn't worth it.

When the first stores opened in London, the reporter spoke to an elderly gentleman who tried to enter but was told to download an app and enter his bank details. "Oh, hell, no, no, no—I don't care," he saidhe said, before going to another supermarket. Earlier this year, it was an Amazon Go storeClosedas part of a cost-cutting drive, along with two more in the UK andanother eightand the USA.

While Amazon's "must-have" shopping has struggled, other companies have also tried to capitalize on the alleged ubiquity of smartphones, but have faced similar challenges. In Great Britain, the supermarket chain Sainsbury's has tested a cashless store in 2021Close itwhen he realized that the customers were not ready. Instead, customers can register atscan your own itemswhen they shop and pay by phone. Its competitor Tesco tried a similar cashless experiment but had torehire cashiersin grab-and-go stores.

Washington Examiner i majit was reportedAlthough admission to the Washington National Zoo was free, visitors had to order tickets in advance, which could only be accessed using a smartphone. The local Washington Nationals baseball team does something similar: Spectators can no longer print their admission tickets; they must show them on the smartphone to enter the games. This story sparked a discussion on social media, with people sharing their experiences of not being able to book a hotel room at the hotel's reception, but instead having to book through the website. More and more hotels expect customers to check in themselves,change gearsfor mobile keys on a smartphone instead of room keys.

When internet connections are unreliable, your phone's batteries are low, or you don't have a smartphone, these changes actually make everything much more difficult.

Apple pushed the idea that the iPhone should be at the center of our lives. In 2014, it launched Apple Pay, which allowed users to add credit cards to their phone, eliminating the need to carry a physical card. The company is trying to get state governments to convertidentifierson our phones and even want your phone to do itbecomes your car key. During the pandemic, Apple and Google collaborated on mobile contact tracing, putting smartphones at the center of the pandemicdid not workvery good. COVID-19 has also helped increase smartphone use with vaccine passports, QR menus and travel declarations.You haveIONSthey now have apps that are not mandatory but allow travelers who indicate in advance to go through border control faster. Australia requires foreign visitors to download an app to apply for an e-tourist visa.

These changes are largely made in the name of convenience: using a smartphone should save organizations the time and hassle of hiring and training employees to interact with customers. But when internet connections aren't reliable, your phone's batteries are low, or you don't have a smartphone, these changes actually make things much more difficult. And for those who want to limit the use of a smartphone? Forget it.

One of the bigger risks is that as more and more of the things we do are done via smartphones, digital systems and their algorithms reduce our personal agency and can make it difficult to ask for human help. Take Uber drivers: Many have complained for years about what they can bedisabled by the appno explanation and hassmall asylumwhen it happens. They don't have a human manager – just an app. And if they are evicted, they can be permanently cut off from the income they depended on. Now imagine this kind of indolent and inexplicable decision-making extending to the whole of society. It's a nightmare along the way.

Smartphones should not be mandatory

There is a clear conflict here. On the one hand, we realize that excessive dependence on smartphones can affect our relationships, mental health and professional lives. But on the other hand, companies and governments are increasingly integrating smartphones into the infrastructure of our lives, making it difficult, if not impossible, to live without them. Device manufacturers and app developers want us to continue to make smartphones essential, so that we are always connected to them. It's unlikely that people will throw away their smartphones en masse, but that doesn't mean we can't better understand the social consequences of using them and make it easier for people to quit.

And there are encouraging signs that pushback can turn things around. To takecashless stores: The number of stores where customers can only pay with a credit or debit card has been increasing for years, but it has really grown during the pandemic. While supposedly more convenient for customers and safer for store employees who don't need cash on hand, the move excludes people without bank accounts and credit cards and those who prefer to use cash for various reasons. Fortunately, it's been recognized in many places that denying people cash is wrong, and New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia and a few others have respondedbig citiestook steps to protect people's right to pay in cash. There are similar initiativesbottleacross the country and even forced Amazon to do soadd cash and app free optionsto their "cashless" Go stores in places like San Francisco.

Giving up smartphones should be a human right. Our phones are portrayed as tools for a more comfortable social life, but in reality they have a detrimental effect on people's ability to concentrate and relationships, while allowing the tech industry to entrench a more unequal society, where jobs are more insecure and digital barriers exist. disappeared. At this point, it is necessary to rebalance our relationship with smartphones.

Paris Marxis a tech writer and host of the Tech Won't Save Us podcast. He also writes the Disconnect newsletter and is an authorRoad to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Got Wrong About the Future of Transportation.


Want to break your phone addiction? It is too late.? ›

Some experts suggest going without your phone for 3 days. That can help you kick bad phone habits and find new, healthier things to do instead. You can ease your way back into using it -- say, just calls and texts at certain times -- then gradually start to do other things if you decide you want to again.

How long does it take to break phone addiction? ›

Some experts suggest going without your phone for 3 days. That can help you kick bad phone habits and find new, healthier things to do instead. You can ease your way back into using it -- say, just calls and texts at certain times -- then gradually start to do other things if you decide you want to again.

How many hours on your phone is considered an addiction? ›

There is no specific amount of time spent on your phone, or the frequency you check for updates, or the number of messages you send or receive that indicates an addiction or overuse problem.

How do you break a serious phone addiction? ›

If you're concerned that your phone use is impacting your work or relationships, there are steps you can take to manage time on your phone.
  1. Set boundaries with your phone's help. ...
  2. Identify your triggers. ...
  3. Put your phone away at night. ...
  4. Reduce your notifications. ...
  5. Try cognitive behavioral therapy or mindfulness.
Apr 26, 2022

Is it possible to stop phone addiction? ›

A better—and, for many of us, more plausible—approach is to manage addictive behavior by moderating device use. This isn't just a matter of setting screen-time limits you can easily break; rather, you can start to develop specific, concrete habits to replace the unhealthy ones that keep sending you back to your phone.

Can a phone addiction damage brain? ›

Researchers also found that smartphone addiction can lead to an imbalance in brain chemistry that triggers depression and anxiety.

What are the top 10 signs of phone addiction? ›

Signs And Symptoms Of Phone Addiction
  • Lying about smartphone use.
  • Loved ones expressing concern.
  • Neglect or trouble completing duties at work, school, or home.
  • More and more time using a phone.
  • Checking peoples' profiles repeatedly due to anxiety.
  • Accidents or injury due to phone use.
  • Working later to complete tasks.
Jun 6, 2023

What age group is most addicted to phones? ›

Teens are more likely to become addicted to cell phones than any other age group. According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, adolescents under 20 years old are the most at-risk for cell phone addiction because this age group is more likely to experience behavioral problems.

How many hours on phone is unhealthy? ›

What's a healthy amount of screen time for adults? Experts say adults should limit screen time outside of work to less than two hours per day. Any time beyond that which you would typically spend on screens should instead be spent participating in physical activity.

What are signs symptoms of phone addiction? ›

Signs of phone addiction include feeling irritable or negative when going without a phone, being unable to go without a phone for long periods of time, or using a phone so much that it negatively affects physical health or mental health.

What triggers PHone addiction? ›

Dopamine motivates us to take action and each time we hear a notification, we check our device. The problem is this dopamine boost is temporary and leads to a letdown. Our brains want more dopamine, which triggers the habit of checking our phones constantly throughout the day.”

Why am I so addicted to my PHone? ›

What causes smartphone addiction? People who have psychological and emotional issues such as stress, depression, loneliness and social anxiety can easily get addicted to technology. The experiences that smartphones connect us to – social media, games, videos, apps – can all give us pleasure.

Is cell PHone addiction a mental illness? ›

Smartphone addiction is a serious mental health issue impacting millions of users worldwide. While this phenomenon is often associated with young people this type of addiction affects almost any demographic and can seriously affect mental well-being.

What are the five steps to stop phone addiction? ›

How to Break Cell Phone Addiction
  1. Don't use your phone as an alarm clock. Resist the urge to check your phone and social media immediately upon waking. ...
  2. Set limits for usage. ...
  3. Turn your phone off. ...
  4. Practice mindfulness. ...
  5. Seek assistance.
Apr 14, 2022

How does phone addiction affect mental health? ›

Other psychological impacts of smartphone addiction include depression, anxiety and behavioral and compulsive disorders. For example, social media apps may lead users to compare themselves with others, increasing their feelings of depression.

What is nomophobia? ›

The term NOMOPHOBIA or NO MObile PHone PhoBIA is used to describe a psychological condition when people have a fear of being detached from mobile phone connectivity. The term NOMOPHOBIA is constructed on definitions described in the DSM-IV, it has been labelled as a “phobia for a particular/specific things”.

How long does it take to detox from a smartphone? ›

If you feel your phone is taking over your life, Greenfield suggests a digital detox of at least three days. That's typically the minimum amount of time needed to be effective.

Can smartphone addiction be cured? ›

Smartphone Addiction Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to change your maladaptive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors into healthy and positive ones. This method has been proven effective in treating Internet addiction, which is very similar to cell phone addiction.

How do I detox myself from my phone? ›

7 Ways to Do a Digital Detox (Without Pulling the Plug Entirely)
  1. Schedule Time Away From Screens Throughout the Day. ...
  2. Take Periodic Breaks From Technology. ...
  3. Downgrade Your Phone. ...
  4. Turn Off Your Phone at a Specific Time. ...
  5. Adjust Your Phone Settings to Limit Certain Apps. ...
  6. Create No-Phone Areas.

At what point are you addicted to your phone? ›

You cannot put the phone down for extended periods of time. You feel compelled to check your phone during things such as movies or meals. Withdrawal. You experience withdrawal when you cannot use your phone.


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