None of us want to believe we’re dealing with a smartphone addiction. But picking up our phone at traffic lights, in meetings and whenever we have a quite moment has become so well, normal. So what are some ways to put the phone down? This month, we turn to Ask Amanda with just that question.

Smartphone Addiction - theCityMoms

I just received this question the other week and thought it would be perfect to tackle for our September post:

“Hey Amanda, I find myself on my phone more and more these days. From email {both personal and work}, taking pictures of my kids, using my map to find directions, and staying connected on social media, I am addicted for lack of a better term. What can I do to feel less dependent but still acknowledging that some technology is unavoidable?”

Alright dear reader, here we go: The short answer lies in your question. You’re right: A certain amount of technology is absolutely unavoidable. That’s just the reality of life these days. But changing the way we think about it can help us feel better.

Here are my tips for dealing with smartphone addiction:

1. Identifying the problem is the first step.

When we face our fears head on and answer important questions about them, we can finally quit worrying. The fear here is that your phone is taking over your life. You’re afraid you can’t live without it. Maybe you’re even afraid of neglecting your kids or relationships because you’re on it too much. Ask yourself the following questions to identify problem areas:

  • Do I scroll through Facebook/social media while playing with my kids?
  • Do I check my email at dinner?
  • If I get a text while talking to someone, do I stop to respond while the other person just stands there?
  • Do I stop what I’m doing at any given moment when I hear a notification sound?
  • Do I make up reasons to get on my phone to avoid tasks or interacting with others?

Pay special attention over the next day or two on when you are grabbing for your phone. Be mindful of when you need to use it versus when you’re on it to avoid something or someone. Then remind yourself that you actually get to decide where to draw the line here. You are always in control of your own usage.

2. A little reassurance goes a long way.

In my initial answer above, I mentioned that acknowledging how some technology is unavoidable can be reassuring for the user.

For many, their smartphone is vital for the work they do with their jobs. I know I couldn’t run my business without it! If that’s the case for you, take a moment to reassure yourself that a certain amount of usage is completely unavoidable. Stop beating yourself up unnecessarily.

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3. Incorporate a few hacks.

Just as we said above, you are in control of your own usage. And there are a few hacks I’ve found helpful for curbing my usage.

Switch up your notification tones. I have different tones set for each notification type. When I put my phone down, those tones tell when it’s a work email vs. something trivial on Facebook. It’s helped me shake the need to grab at my phone when I hear it go off.

Or, get rid of notifications. For phones with notification lights like mine, I will either turn the light off, drop the phone in the charging station so it’s out of my line of sight, or just turn my phone over on a table so the flashing won’t distract.

Try an auditing app. I haven’t had to use these yet but know people who have tried them out and they’ve worked. These apps will monitor your use and provide a full report on the apps you’re probably spending the most time on {hello Facebook!}. For iPhones try Moment. For Androids, RescueTime.

Use airplane mode. During family time, I’ve made a promise that my evening time is for family, not phones. Admittedly, it’s usually nearby for the camera to capture those most-remember moments, but nothing else. What’s helped here during that family time is placing my phone in Airplane mode. This still allows me to use the camera but not be bothered with flipping over to other apps.

Make your phone a little less, well, smart. That may sound counter-intuitive but it’s easy to do. Remove some of those costly apps. If you need to visit something like ESPN or Twitter, the time it will take to open a browser window and search for that particular website may actually give you pause. Or, consider replacing your smartphone with one that just {gasp!} makes calls and accepts texts. No apps required.

Put it away at night. It’s so common to just jump into bed with your phone for the last headline, email, FB post, right? Placing a phone in another room out of reach will avoid those late-night scroll fests. And you know what? Invest in a proper alarm clock.

So again: Face your fear and identify if there’s a problem here. Relish a little reassurance. And try a few hacks to solve your worries. But mostly, time is precious. Thanks for taking a little of it to read this.  ~Amanda




Amanda Campbell headshot - theCityMomsAmanda Campbell, MS LMHC is a licensed counselor and life coach in Indianapolis. In her counseling practice, Amanda helps worry warts find peace of mind and reconnects distant couples. She offers online life coaching services to help busy moms find balance. Check out her website for more info and contact Amanda to get started on the path to a happier, healthier you!

Amanda lives with her husband, two boys, and not-to-be-ignored cat Sphinx.