If you’re starting to feel like you’re spending too much time on your phone, you probably are.
According to a report from Data.ai, 4.1 trillion hours were spent staring at mobile phone screens globally last year – the equivalent of 470 million years.
The average American and Briton spends at least a fifth of their day using one – with short video apps like TikTok taking up most of their time.
Yet more and more studies show that they make us miserable. Survey last April indicated that if you reduce your smartphone use by just an hour a day, you are less anxious, more satisfied with life and more inclined to exercise.
Considering we’re only 11 days into the new year, there’s never been a better time to try a digital detox. DailyMail.com asked the experts how to go about this:
If you’re starting to feel like you’re spending too much time on your phone, you probably are. Globally, 4.1 trillion hours were spent staring at cell phone screens last year, according to a report from Data.ai (file image)
Identify the ‘problem’ apps… and hide them
Focusing on the apps that make you pick up your phone is a great first step, says Becca Caddy, author of Screen Time: How to Make Peace with Your Devices and Find Your Techquilibrium.
Caddy recommends setting realistic goals, rather than trying to go from three hours a day to three minutes.
“We all have an app (or three) that wipes out our willpower.
Becca Caddy, author of Screen Time: How to Make Peace with Your Devices and Find Your Techquilibrium, recommends setting realistic goals rather than trying to go straight from a three-hour-a-day habit to three minutes
Maybe you can’t tear yourself away from TikTok makeup tutorials or feel addicted to the latest news headlines on Twitter.
Fortunately, your phone has a built-in way to set a daily time limit for the worst offenders.
Get to know these settings (called App Limits in Screen Time on iOS and Digital Wellbeing on Android) and give yourself a daily time commitment.
When you reach your limit, a notification appears.
You can ignore it, and some days you might, but if you’re stuck in a sliding hole, this gentle nudge might be just what you need to remind you that life exists beyond your phone screen. ‘
You can also try hiding apps in folders that are hard to find?
Most phones also now have settings that allow you to “remove” apps completely from the home screen, requiring you to manually search for the app every time you want to use it.
Visualize the benefits… or take a cold shower!
Staring at your phone for hours is a waste of time, so Mallory advises visualizing the benefits of quitting.
“Visualize what you could do with the extra time you usually spend on your phone, the experiences you could have.
“Put aside the things you can’t control and focus on the things you can. Feeling in control of your life rather than a passenger is key.”
Today, everyone from professional athletes like Conor McGregor to celebrities like Oprah and powerful CEOs use visualization techniques.
The technique is often associated with visualizing career success, but experts say it can also be used to break habits.
Max Kirsten, a hypnotherapist in London, recommends setting aside 15 minutes each day to clear your mind and reflect on why quitting would make a difference in your life.
But former rally driver and life coach Penny Mallory, author of 365 Ways to Develop Mental Toughness, advocates a tougher approach.
To break a habit, focusing your mind on discipline can help, and Penny suggests taking a cold shower every day to “build discipline, resilience, dedication, and determination.”
Not only will you not be able to use your phone during that time, it will also teach you discipline, she says.
“Many people fail to achieve their goals because they are unwilling to leave their comfort zone and push themselves further.
‘There is no loss in stepping outside your comfort zone; you will succeed or learn from it, and both are great victories. Your chance of achieving it increases as a result.’
Set house rules
Charlotte Armitage, registered integrative psychotherapist and media psychologist and founder of No Phones at home Day, says households should set strict rules about when smartphones can and cannot be used — and remove children’s devices when they are not needed.
Former rally driver and life coach Penny Mallory, author of 365 Ways to Develop Mental Toughness, advocates a tougher approach. To break a habit, it can help to focus on discipline, and Penny suggests taking a cold shower every day to “build discipline, resilience, dedication, and determination.”
These can be very simple – but effective – rules, such as no phones during dinner or no phones after a certain amount of time.
If you force your children to adhere to them, you are more likely to apply them to your own habits.
It can help to write down rules and agree with the rest of the family so that each family member is held accountable.
Armitage says, “Set limits on use. Don’t have the phone at the dinner table. Encourage people to put their phones down when eating out.”
Armitage recommends at least one telephone-free day at the weekend – this must be agreed in advance.
“I’ve tried this myself with my daughter, we’ve reduced the amount of time we spend on devices and now have a device-free day on weekends.
“I noticed the benefits to our well-being, relationship, and behavior.”
“Use downtime to connect with the people in your household; talking, playing a game, going for a walk, doing an art activity, working out or exercising together, sitting together and talking.
‘Research has shown that notifications on our phone can cause dopamine to be released in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in feeling good.
“When something encourages the release of dopamine, the brain builds a positive association with that object, seeking more, that’s how devices become addictive.”
Science shows that looking at your phone right before bed disrupts your sleep, warns Caddy — though it’s less clear whether this is due to blue light or simply social media stress.
She says, “If you can’t stop scrolling on your own before bed. get to know your phone’s do not disturb settings.
“You can schedule these to start an hour (or two, if you’re feeling virtuous) before bed. That way, if you lose track of time, your phone will work for you and not against you, blocking notifications, setting limits, and making sure you stick to your intentions to get a good night’s sleep.”