A few years ago, I was taking the subway to work and noticed something funny. At one point, we emerged above ground to cross a bridge, which gave us a brief window of cell service. Immediately, in unison, everyone on the subway car scrambled for their phones and began tapping away. It was like they couldn’t stand to be parted from their phones a second longer than necessary.
This rattled me a bit. These people were going for their phones like smokers fumbling for a cigarette. Worse, I realized I’d done the same thing myself many times. I decided my relationship with my phone had to change.
Don’t get me wrong; I think smartphones are 🔥. I just don’t want to use my phone compulsively or spend all day in front of a screen. I’ve noticed it’s not great for my mood, and science seems to agree; studies show that excessive screen time can lead to mood problems, depression, academic difficulties, and other issues.
Learning to use our phones and other digital devices in moderation takes a little (or a lot of) effort, but it’s worth it. Below, I share a few tips that might help.
Hong, S. B., Zalesky, A., Cocchi, L., Fornito, A., et al. (2013). Decreased functional brain connectivity in adolescents with internet addiction. PloS One, 8(2), e57831.
Lin, F., Zhou, Y., Du, Y., Qin, L., et al. (2012). Abnormal white matter integrity in adolescents with internet addiction disorder: a tract-based spatial statistics study. PloS One, 7(1), e30253.
Pantic, I., Damjanovic, A., Todorovic, J., Topalovic, D., et al. (2012). Association between online social networking and depression in high school students: behavioral physiology viewpoint. Psychiatria Danubina, 24(1), 90–93.
Walsh, J. L., Fielder, R. L., Carey, K. B., & Carey, M. P. (2013). Female college students’ media use and academic outcomes results from a longitudinal cohort study. Emerging Adulthood, 10.1177/2167696813479780.
Verduyn, P., Lee, D. S., Park, J., Shablack, H., et al. (2015). Passive Facebook usage undermines affective well-being: Experimental and longitudinal evidence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144(2), 480.