I donât spend too much time on my cell phone, but most of the people I know canât leave it alone for more than about 10 minutes or soâand Iâm being generous.
Whether Iâm in a meeting, at a dinner party, or sitting in a cafÃ© looking around, there are phones within armâs reach of nearly everyone, usually being grasped at the first opportunity.
Smartphones have become a major part of North American life, and they offer all kinds of benefitsâI wonât argue against that. But countless people have formed a dependency thatâs sacrificing their ability to live in the moment. Theyâve become more concerned with whatâs happening on their phoneâs screen than with whatâs happening around them.
In fact, I recently read about a study from the University of Missouri that illustrates the severity of this dependency. Researchers found that when subjects were separated from their phones, they displayed serious psychological and physiological effects, including increased heart rate, blood pressure levels, and anxiety, and poor cognitive performance. When phones were in their possession, the symptoms subsided and their test performance improved.
Study: Smartphones the New Addiction
This research indicates two main points: 1) that smartphones have become an extension of the self; and 2) that people donât have very good attention spansâsomething that is perhaps a result of overusing smartphones. In a way, smartphones have eliminated the need to focus. They provide a way for constant stimulation and an opportunity to have access to anything and anyone, right at your fingertips.
What surprised me the most about this study is that the research team said the results support the idea that separating users from their âiPhonesâ in certain situationsâtests, meetings, presentationsâis a bad idea because it can negatively impact oneâs performance. Thatâs basically like saying obese people should be given âBig Macâ combos when theyâre feeling stressed or that alcoholics should drink whenever theyâre feeling uncomfortable; supporting this kind of dependency doesnât seem like such a great idea, does it?
Yes, itâs important for treatment and medicine to evolve as the landscape of the world changes, but I donât think itâs right to eliminate all forms of personal responsibility. If a person is addicted to their smartphone and the addiction is creating health problems, then itâs important to find a way to break the addiction without giving in to it.
How to Reduce Your Dependency on Your Cell Phone and Refocus
If you need to improve your focus and reduce your reliance on your smartphone, here are some things you can try…
- Schedule time during the day during which you either turn off your phone or set it to sleep mode. For example, I leave my phone on sleep mode for the majority of the day, and answer any texts/e-mails before I turn it off at night.
- You can also practice mindfulness and meditation. This helps you appreciate the moment for what it is, so you donât need to seek outside stimulation. Instead, it will teach you to appreciate whatâs in front of you.
- Caffeine can help when youâre performing tasks requiring extra focus. Drink a coffee about 30 minutes prior and it should help you stay focused. Donât make this a regular occurrence, though, or youâll soon find you may have developed another addiction.
- Finally, fish oil supplements have also been linked to improved cognitive performance, so including a teaspoon or two of fish oil in your daily routine might also help you to improve your focus and ditch your smartphone dependence.
Sources for Todayâs Article:
University of Missouri, âiPhone separation linked to physiological anxiety, poor cognitive performance,â ScienceDaily web site, January 11, 2015; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150111195734.htm.
Northumbria University, âBoosting mental performance with fish oil?â ScienceDaily web site, October 21, 2011; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111021074640.htm, last accessed January 13, 2015.