Health & Wellness

How to Beat Smartphone Addiction

Always reaching for your phone? You might be addicted. Here’s how to take control.

By Katrina Caruso

Do you feel lost when your smartphone isn’t nearby or fearful if your battery is running low? Do you get excited when your screen lights up? You’re not alone—but that’s not necessarily good news.

These reactions may be signs that you’re addicted to your smartphone, according to neuroethics professor Peter Reiner at the University of British Columbia. Research has shown that excessive cellphone usage can negatively affect mental health and interfere with things such as sleep cycles and moods.

Smartphones can be useful for checking e-mail, staying in touch, getting up-to-date information, and having a built-in GPS, but you can have too much of a good thing. What can you do?

  1. Put the phone away at night

This step is especially important if you’re finding it increasingly difficult to get to sleep. Insomnia has been linked with cellphone use, and if your phone is charging on your nightstand, there’s no escaping the thing. The best action to take would be to move it to another room, or at the very least, across the room, so that it’s out of sight and mind.

  1. Adjust your notifications

In your phone’s settings, you can limit the number of notifications you get from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, CBC, BBC, etc. With fewer notifications, you’ll be less likely to check your phone all the time. This can lower your stress level and help if you find yourself often distracted. Besides, you don’t really need to know right this minute whether Deb’s invited you to a new game of Scrabble. Just check the app the next time you’re ready to play a game.

  1. Stop scrolling

If you often find yourself scrolling down your app’s endless feed, cut it out. This is how people end up spending a whole evening on their phones: the infinite scroll keeps them trapped. Avoid apps offering this feature, or set the timer on your phone to remind you to stop scrolling after a few minutes if you really feel that you need to catch up on your Facebook or Twitter feed.

How much smartphone is too much? You may have a problem if people have commented on your phone usage, or if you have a hard time being at social events such as concerts without pulling out your phone to take a selfie or check in. If you’re unsure whether your habits are in the healthy range, check out this self-test online.

Photo: iStock/Ridofranz.