Imagine this: The power goes out, and you can’t charge your cellphone. It’s dead. What will you do? If this scenario gives you the shivers and is just too horrifying to imagine, you may have a cell phone addiction. Here is the question to ask yourself: Could you put down your phone and not check it for several minutes? How about an hour? How about a full day? 90 percent of us ignore incoming cell phone calls. Dr. James Roberts, author of “Too Much of a Good Thing: Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?” and a professor at Baylor University, says it’s possible to gain control over your smartphone — if you take the right steps. “It’s all about finding your ‘digital sweet spot,’ that magical place where you are still plugged in but have carved out time for the things that really matter,” Roberts explained. “You, your relationships and community are the bedrocks of living a happy and meaningful life. They are also the first things that suffer when our lives get out of balance.”
Five tips to break your smartphone addiction and get your life back in balance:
1. No smartphones while driving.
To make sure you don’t use your phone while driving — for voice or text messaging — place it in the trunk.
2. Establish “smartphone-free” zones and times.
This includes the bedroom, dinner table, bathroom and all day at work except for the two or three times of day you schedule to check it. Also, do not use your smartphone as an alarm clock. It’s too tempting to check Facebook or watch a cat video before you have even showered.
3. Use airplane mode.
This is a good compromise in that it allows you the safety of having your phone for an emergency but no Internet access.
4. Put out a (social) contract on yourself.
Social contracts are a great way to change behavior. Simply write a contract that states the acceptable and unacceptable use of your smartphone and the punishment for such behavior. Then enlist your spouse, significant other and/or kids to be the enforcers.
5. Commit to it and do it.
None of these suggestions will work if you are not totally committed to the cause. You must believe that curbing your smartphone use is essential to your happiness, because, yes, it will take steely reserve and discipline to make this happen.