Colette Sexton, news correspondent at The Sunday Business Post, on why we need a break from our phones.
25 hours and 55 minutes. That is the average amount of time I spend on my phone per week, according to QualityTime, an app I downloaded in a bid to reduce my screen time. It clearly hasn’t done a great job thus far.
There is no way I spend more than a day a week on my phone - right? It must be wrong. It must keep running in the background when I have put down my phone to do more wholesome activities like talking to friends and reading books. Plus a lot of that comes down to usage for work. Recording interviews, transcribing interviews, listening to the radio, reading the latest news. I am clearly quite the dedicated employee.
Are you as full of excuses as I am when it comes to your phone? The latest research shows I am certainly not alone. A study from itstimetologoff.com found that 80 per cent of smartphone users say checking their phone is the first thing they do in the morning (guilty - but again that’s because my alarm is on my phone, so that isn’t my fault either…) The average social media user spends 2.15 hours a days on their apps, refreshing their feeds, dishing out likes and rolling their eyes.
Social media is the new “crack cocaine”, according to director of Digital Education at SMART NI, Naomh McElhatton. The digital expert, who is due to speak at TechConnect Live at the end of the month, said Irish people need education on using our devices and social media in moderation.
“It’s sad that for some people their identities are carved by virtual audiences. There needs to be a better awareness on how we need to change as real life human relationships are now being jeopardized at the mercy of our smart devices,” she said.
There are ways to wean yourself off your phone. Firstly, delete the social media apps and turn off notifications for the ones you do not delete. I deleted Facebook from my phone following the recent controversy around data protection and while I can still log onto it in my browser, I am spending less and less time on it. Are my days filled with pure joy now that I am more free of Facebook? No. But it is nice to put an end to the constant scrolling through nonsense for the pay off of one genuine update from an actual friend.
Secondly, buy an alarm clock. Then your phone is not the first thing you reach for in the morning. Leave it outside the room when you go to bed and instead of using your wind-down time stalking some stranger’s Instagram feed, you can read that book that has been sitting on your nightstand for weeks.
Finally, start taking breaks from your phone. Go to the shop without it. Leave it downstairs when you’re working upstairs. Take a walk and listen to the birds sing instead of blocking it out with the latest track from Drake blasting in your ears.
Reducing your dependence on your phone will not solve all your problems but it will make you feel more productive and more present and that sounds like an excellent outcome to me… Just let me do one more quick Instagram scroll!