It is a recent phenomenon, you may also agree.
During my last metro ride, which I took after a gap of two years, I realised that people had found something new to do: staring into their mobile screens. Earlier it used to be staring at other people or into the far unknown.
This malaise has now been categorised as an addiction by the WHO and people aged between the age of 15-35 seem to have their mobile phones surgically attached to their hands.
It doesn’t matter where you are; restaurant, office, wash rooms, you would not find it hard to spot people who continue to ignore people around them in favor of liking photos of people who are miles away.
Some are even willing to risk their and others’ lives. Yeah, I am talking about those who can’t seem to resist the urge to scroll through their social media pages even while driving or walking. God bless them!
Are you one of the same creed or one who wishes people had better sense and realise the mess they are making of waking hours by devoting too much time to their mobile phones?
I belong to the generation which got mobile phones when they joined the college. Now even kids who have just begun going to schools, have access to phones. This means that the effect these devices can have on their minds can be long-lasting and inalterable.
It is recommended that kids be given mobile phones only after they reach the age of 12, and use of digital devices be limited to an hour a day.
With so many useful features, apps, games, it is understandable that people use them but they can’t seem to get away from them when they should. This means they are addicted to phones, just like many are to cigarettes, and this is harmful. What’s the solution then?
There are ways to maintain the balance between the real and the digital. Let’s take a look.
Monitor How Much You Are Using Your Phone
You are going through your Facebook feed and like a particular video. Then a few seconds later, another video begins to play automatically and you seem to like that video too.
And then this process continues until you realise that you have spent half an hour watching videos! Same goes with other things people like to do with phones which include chatting with friends, watching their favorite shows, playing video games.
So, you just lose track of time and end up with much lesser time than you would want. The first step is, therefore, to realise that you are using up too much of your time on your phone. Second is to monitor the time. This will help you decide how much time you want to spend using your phone.
Is it 2 hours a day and you think it’s time to cut down on it? Note down the time limit and commit to it.
Reserve a Particular Time in the Day to Respond to Not-so-necessary Messages
I receive unsolicited messages every day, varying from real estate developers to those who claim to reduce my weight in 30 days. I am very sure that I don’t need to buy a property right now nor is my weight beyond normal.
But these are not the only messages you and I receive. There are other important emails and messages you need to respond to. But even taking a look to see who the message is from distracts us on and off throughout the day.
The proper way is to take some time out during the day to respond to all the emails and messages so that you are not distracted multiple times in a day.
It could be after lunch, downtime at work, or any free time that you can find. The aim is to not pick up the phone every now and then. You will realise you are getting more organised. I have tried it and it really helps.
Not Knowing What’s Happening in the World is OK
A colleague during a lunch break was telling me about the Big Boss contestants this season. Not being a Big Boss fan, I continued to engage in the conversation without being too interested.
If it had been about politics, I might have been more interested. Not really important to know everything that is happening (least of all about Big Boss and other mind-numbing TV programmes). What do you say?
For some people picking up the phone every hour or so to know what is happening in the world has become something of a compulsion. Be it social media or news updates, this urge just fuels our attention deficit.
We need to understand that it is not going to make a whole lot of difference if we get to know of something a few hours later. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and chant ‘All is well’ 5 times. Everything will be fine.
Turn Off Notifications
I liked a friend’s vacation photos on Facebook. The next few hours and days I kept getting notifications whenever somebody liked or commented on those photos.
Hmmm…. that’s how these social media sites want us to spend more time on their platforms and lesser on things that really matter. I turned off the notifications alerts for Facebook and now can see all the notifications once I log in to it; not really life-altering if I miss these alerts. If some of you are thinking why don’t I delete my FB account, then I wish to say that it is not bad altogether, it’s just that we tend to overuse these platforms.
Turn off the notifications for apps and sites you think make you end up browsing the net mindlessly. High five!
Decide What You Want to Do With the Reclaimed Time
We all wish we had time to do something we really want to do. It could be painting, reading, playing a musical instrument, or just doing nothing at all.
The daily routine takes it toll and whatever extra time we get, we just grab our phones and find something to waste our time on. Even I when I know that I checked my mail half an hour ago, I just reach out for the phone and check it again.
Isn’t it lack of control over my mind? When you are sure about what you want to do, you will be more inclined to pursue it and not pick up the phone.
Let’s say you like to read. The best way would be to keep a book by your bed or within easy reach so that whenever you feel the impulse to check social media to know what your friends are up to (you may not have talked to most of them for a long time), pick up the book and let your mobile phone get some rest too!
We often feel a kind of anxiety when we don’t check our phones as often as we think we should. Several studies have shown that excessive use of social media can negatively affect our mental health and focus.
Once we manage to cut back on phone time, we can spot the discrepancy between how we are living and how we want to live. Many don’t like the way technology has changed our lives. It is up to us that decide whether our phones control our lives or we control them.