Smartphone addiction is a severe and insidious public health challenge: the average smartphone user taps, swipes, and clicks their device 2,617 times each day during 76 separate sessions. In the short term, these sessions significantly reduce productivity: on average, it takes 25 minutes to return a task after an interruption. It can also reduce our emotional presence. As one author described her experience:
“I had recently had a baby and was feeding her in a darkened room as she cuddled on my lap. It was an intimate, tender moment — except for one detail. She was gazing at me … and I was on eBay, scrolling through listings for Victorian-era doorknobs.”
In the long term, problematic cell-phone use has been associated with negative cumulative outcomes, including “sleep disturbance, anxiety, stress, and, to a lesser extent, depression.”
Our collective addiction to our smartphones is not an entirely natural phenomenon but rather is very much a consequence of deliberate design decisions: for example, at my alma mater Stanford University, the Persuasive Technology Lab teaches “the psychology of behavior change, such as how clicker training for dogs, among other methods of conditioning, can inspire products for people. For example, rewarding someone with an instantaneous ‘like’ after they post a photo can reinforce the action, and potentially shift it from an occasional to a daily activity.”
Johego, despite having developed a smartphone application for iOS and Android, is committed to helping combat cellphone addiction. Johego’s mission is to make connecting people in need with essential medical and social services as easy as finding showtimes for movies. Such connections will only occur when people notice and act upon such needs, which requires intellectual and emotional presence.
So, to close, here are a few simple things you can start doing during the holiday season to limit your smartphone usage:
- Eliminate notifications for your most commonly used apps (on Android or iOS), especially social media.
- Uninstall any app you do not strictly need (on Android or iOS), including those services you can access from your desktop or laptop computer — or from your smartphone Internet browser.
- Place your phone away from you facedown when you are not using it, particularly when you are at work or in social settings.
In the meantime, we wish you safe and happy holidays!
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