The modern world has brought to us an unparalleled quality of life that our ancestors could have never dreamed of.
Instantaneous communication with other people, information at the click of a button, and on-demand movies are just a few of the offerings on the modern buffet table.
For most people, all or most of these conveniences are accessed through their cellphones.
There’s no problem with this…until it gets to the level of a compulsive behavior (i.e. an addiction).
Why Cellphone Addiction Is Overlooked
Many people think addiction only comes in the form of a pill or a powder, that is mainly through external substances.
Parents have a good laugh amomg and say “Hah, hah, he/she just can’t put down his phone no matter what!”.
It seems innocent at the outset, but compulsive behavior is just one step from addiction (which is the end result).
Addiction is addiction regardless of the behavior or origin. Addictions still work on the neurotransmitter system within the brain.
There are many neurotransmitters but the main one involved in behavioral addictions is dopamine.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for reward-motivated behavior.
Certain activities release more dopamine than others. These are activities related to sex, food, drugs, etc.
Social media, shopping, porn, email – these are all novel experiences only found on the Internet.
To us humans, novelty is rewarding because it tells the brain on a subconscious level, “hey, this might be useful for your survival”. New information releases dopamine. This is very good because our ancestors would not have made a majority of discoveries without this tendency to seek out novelty.
As of November 2016, over half of the world’s population accessed the Internet through a cellphone. What does this ultimately mean?
Cellphone addiction is inherently an Internet addiction, which is turn is driven by novelty seeking.
Smartphone addiction has no physical effects like drug addiction, so all’s well – right?
Why Smartphone Addiction Is Detrimental to Your Self-Development
You’re dedicated to self-improvement since you are reading this article.
One of the easiest ways to destroy your self-improvement efforts is to be addicted to your smartphone or the Internet.
Smartphones provide an endless assortment of stimulation. Games, Internet, chatting, text, the list of goes on and on and on.
But here’s what no one is saying: you are essentially wasting time. You aren’t doing anything inherently productive.
You can spend an entire day spiraling down the Internet-based rabbit hole making absolutely no progress on your goals, whatsoever.
Eventually, you will question where the time went – because you spent it on a smartphone.
This is especially dangerous to kids and teenagers, who have a greater tendency to develop addictions and compulsions because their brains are still growing at a fast clip.
If you’re trying to get better at a skill or manage your time better, being addicted to your smartphone will absolutely destroy the chances of that happening.
You may not think you’re addicted, but if you experience separation anxiety or withdrawal – those are strong signs that you are.
4 Tips to Stop the Madness
In the Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg states that for any habit, addiction, or compulsion you have, there is a cue, a routine, and a reward.
In this case, the cue is hearing or seeing your cellphone ring or buzz.
The routine is picking it up and fiddling with it.
The reward is the sense of satisfaction from using your phone.
All of these cascade to build up to smartphone addiction.
Use these four steps to hijack the “habit loop” before you can even start it.
1. Remove the stimulus
There’s a saying that goes: “cut the head off of the snake and the body dies”. This is true for smartphone addiction. Out of sight, out of mind (in a way).
If you have trouble with your smartphone use, keep it out of sight. Since it’s out of sight, there’s a lower chance that you’ll reach for the phone.
Put the phone in a lockbox until you are finished with work. This will train your mind to associate “work” with “not touching the smartphone”.
2. Buy an alarm clock
For many people, the first thing they do is reach for their phone…because their alarm rings and they go and turn it off.
Since the phone’s in your hand, might as well check the news right?
You are already starting the first five minutes of your day with a phone in your hand, mind you when the subconscious is still largely active.
What impact will this have on your psychology?
Bypass all of this with an alarm clock. When the alarm sounds, turn it off – not your phone.
3. Delete certain applications
If someone who’s heavily addicted to prescription medication can’t throw away the bottle – they can at least throw away the pills.
In this case, you can’t really throw away the “bottle” (phone) but you can throw away the “pills” (apps).
Instead of seeing an app and clicking on it (like a knee-jerk reaction), you can remove the cue entirely. That way, you won’t have to wrestle resisting the urge to go ahead and use the application.
In order to do this, you first have to have the willpower to actually delete the application from your phone. That take some degree of self-discipline.
Then again, if you have a smartphone addiction – your sense of self-discipline may be compromised in that area.
4. Revert to a flip phone
This is a “final solution”. If you find it hard to do all of the above, then you can return back to a flip phone (pejoratively known as a “dumb phone”).
Flip phones contain no shiny apps, no ability to rapidly connect to the Internet, no ability to play high fidelity games.
Flip phones are also workhorses. Their battery life is longer than the average smartphone.
Besides, you won’t be alone. Millions of people around the world still use flip phones and they function perfectly fine.
To wrap this up, it’s quite clear that cellphone and smartphone technology has changed our landscape to a significant degree.
As we progress further into the 21st century, the numbers of people who have a smartphone addiction will increase.
You don’t have to be one of them. By using the techniques here, you can break your dependency on smartphones and get on the high road to high achievement.
It’s a much better path to take and your future self will thank you.