Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Five ways to have a healthier relationship with your Smartphone

If you're like most people, you probably use your Smartphone too often. Maybe you're even addicted to it.

Do you feel it vibrating in your pocket when it's not actually there? Do you have anxiety when it's not with you? When you have it, are you checking it impulsively? Has your phone usage ever caused problems in an important relationship? If you answered yes to any of the above, you're not alone.

I have a love/hate relationship with my Smartphone, and recently I've had to put effort into changing  the way I use it so I can have, what I consider to be, a better quality of life.

Here are five, simple, effective and realistic tips to help you have a healthier relationship with your Smartphone:

Ditch the data plan
I used to be checking web updates and Apps all the time, even while walking from the parking lot to my office building first thing in the morning. My data usage was going up, and my phone bills were getting more expensive. People kept telling me to change my phone plan and increase my available data, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

I turn off my data (on an iphone, go to Settings, General, Cellular, and hit Off on the Cellular Data option). So when I want to use the Internet or check out my Apps, I do it when I have access to Wi-Fi Internet. Wi-Fi kicks in automatically as soon as I walk in the door of my house and the Internet is free to use on my phone, so if I wish to use, it’s there. If I need to use the Internet while I'm out and about, it's only three easy steps to turn my data on for a minute, and three easy steps to turn it off again when I'm done.

I've found myself reaching for my phone to look for something on the Internet when I'm, for example, in a car with someone, and when the Internet doesn't work automatically it's a nice reminder that I probably shouldn't be using it at that time.

Don't carry your phone around with you everywhere, all the time
I know you probably like to have it with you when you leave the house. But around the house? Really?

Leave your phone in another other room. It doesn't need to watch TV or have dinner with you. If you're waiting for a call or want to get back to someone if they text you, leave the ringer and the notification alarms on so you'll hear it.

Carrying it around the house will lead to unhealthy habits, and you'll be on it non-stop.

Make it useful
I was checking Facebook often - reading so much of people's crap and creeping on random pictures, that I was annoying myself. I deactivated my account for a while and it was glorious - for the time-being. But I need to use Facebook for work (I manage social media at my office so I need to be on Facebook and up-to-date with things) so instead of deactiving my account altogether, I changed the way I use it.

I 'like' more companies and organizations that interest me, including news channels and different yoga pages. This has helped fill my news feed with interesting information and updates, including blogs, and I enjoy it much more. While it's probably just curbed my Facebook addiction and not completely cured it, I don't have as much anxiety or jealously that I used to when I spend time on Facebook, because I hardly look at other people's information anymore.

Have a purpose
Only pick your phone up to do something specific. Don't just pick it up and start browsing or playing with your Apps. Before you know it, 45 minutes will have passed and you will have probably accomplished nothing. You're time is worth more than that! Know you're value, and only spend time on your phone when you have to. When you’ve done what you needed to do, put it down and walk away.

Increase its font size and put it on speaker phone
I’ve read that more and more people these days are needing glasses because of the amount of time people spend in front of a screen. I’ve also heard we are more prone to wrinkles (gasp!) from all the squinting that’s done from using a phone all the time. Increase the font size of the text on your phone for the sake of your eyes, and your skin!

When possible, put it on speaker phone or use headphones. There's all this talk about increasing our risk of developing cancer because of the radiation from cell phones, and the increasing amount of time we hold them to our heads. Some people may believe it and some may not, but let’s not take the risk. Hold it away from your head as often as you can by putting it on speakerphone or using headphones with a microphone in them, and don't keep it in bed with you.

I hope these tips are helpful for you – I know they’ve been helpful for me. Just beware though: Once you cut back and start to manage your time with your phone, you may realize how often everyone else uses theirs! This can be somewhat disheartening and discouraging at first. But you'll get used to it, and who knows, you may even have a positive influence on their life and their relationship with their phone!

Thanks for reading,