What do you grab on your way out the door? Keys, wallet… phone. We’re all familiar with the sinking feeling of patting down your pockets and realizing you’re missing any piece of the trifecta.
Specifically our phones.
For most of us our phones are extensions of ourselves. Without them, we’d feel incomplete. Lost without maps, unable to reach our friends, and no easy internet access to settle dinner table debates.
One of the biggest signs of overuse or abuse is when regulatory reminders have become necessary. Here are some examples of regulation on substances before phones.
Tobacco: Smokers were everywhere in the 60s – even indoors – so it became necessary to create rules on where you can and can’t smoke.
Alcohol: In the past concerns over excessive drinking habits also fueled the need for its regulation.
Food: As food technology advanced, the quality of food products improved and a variety of newer ways to cook and preserve food were on the rise. The rise of food culture also
This brings us to phone usage. We have become so addicted that even the thought of spending a day without our phones is anxiety-inducing. When faced with the choice between giving up our phone there are a plethora of things we’d rather lose instead:
Your Car: a study commissioned by Zipcar, a car-sharing company, revealed that 40% of Millenials believe that losing their phone is a bigger tragedy than losing their car and that they would rather lose their car than lose their phone.
A Finger: A Pew Research study involving adolescents showed that they viewed their phones as in the same category as air and water. In fact, they are so important that they’d rather lose their pinky than lose their phone.
Sex: 94% of Brits would rather live without sex for a week than live without their phones.
Computer: a survey conducted by TeleNav stated that 20% of smartphone users would rather give up their computer for a week instead of their phone if they had to make a choice.
Shoes: the same survey from TeleNav showed that 21% of respondents would give up their shoes for a week if they could keep their phones.
Alcohol: according to the same survey, 70% of respondents would rather go sober for a week than lose their phone.
Food: researchers from the University of Buffalo have discovered that college students would rather go hungry just to spend more time on their phone.
Because we’d rather just let go of just about everything else before our phones, various companies have begun urging us to limit our phone usage to just one hour a day. Both Google and Apple have joined the fray with their release of Wellbeing and Screen Time, respectively, to provide apps that can help people curtail their phone use. Placing limits on phone usage may be difficult simply because there is no scientifically specific amount of time for healthy activity.
The difficulty in placing a standard amount of time for phone usage lies in the fact that phone usage habits are different from person to person. For some an hour of usage is acceptable since their phones are used mainly for entertainment while for others, their phones are tied to their business and they require upwards of four hours to use their phone. A mobile app developer or a social media manager would definitely need to use their phones for a majority of the day as opposed to a student who should only be using their phone outside of class.
Phone usage habits vary across age groups. Adults will generally need to use their phones more than children. As adults are generally more in control of their habits acceptable amounts of time for phone usage don’t need to be strictly drawn out. Instead, you should continuously remind yourself of how your phone usage makes you feel throughout the day.
A general guideline for usage is being mindful of how your phone may be affecting your productivity and wellbeing throughout the day. For instance, if using your phone eight hours a day results in your being more productive at work, or if it results in you becoming happier, then by all means, continue to do so. If prolonged usage only leads to stress, or if it wastes valuable time then perhaps it’s time to reflect on your choices and cut back on phone usage.
According to a study published in the journal Emotion, staring at screens for prolonged periods of time generally results in the degradation of emotions. We become less happy the longer we stare. This is especially true for teens and pre-teens and those who spent more time on their screens were unhappier. Those who were engaged in various other activities such as sports or reading were observed to be happier.
For children, recommended screen times are easier to pinpoint. Experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have updated the recommended screen times for various age groups. Here are their recommendations:
In order to ensure that these recommendations for screen time are enforced, it is recommended that parents limit their own exposure to a maximum of two hours a day to set an example for their children.
Its shocking to consider the things that the population would rather give up over their phones. The easiest way to become less reliant on your device is setting limits on how much you use it.