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Are you often on your mobile phone? Does your mobile phone invade your life at the expense of your productivity, health and relationships?

3-Easy-Steps-to-Managing-Your-Mobile-Phone-UseThe attachment to the mobile phone has become — for many — an addiction, leaving them feeling anxious if they’re not within reach. And with so much vying for our attention, the mobile phone is one of the biggest distractions of our modern lives.

In my last post I shared a short viral video by Charlene deGuzman that showed how the mobile phone can distract us from conversation, from appreciating our surroundings, and from simply enjoying the moment.

How do you fare in the use of your mobile phone?

How easy do you find it to be without your mobile phone?

Do you find yourself feeling anxious if your battery power is running low?

How often are you distracted by text messages, tweets, or other notifications?

In this post I want to offer three steps that I’ve found helpful in managing what is now known as Nomophobia.

The mobile phone has changed

My first memory of the mobile phone was in the late 80’s when my dad came home with a brand new Motorola — most lovingly known as the brick.

But the mobile phone has moved on since then. It’s evolved from simply being a phone, to becoming ‘smart’.

Via our smartphones we’re now able to access social media, browse the internet, listen to music, and ask for directions to our local restaurant. All at the touch of a button and the ‘swipe’ of a screen.

This advancement in technology has revolutionised the way we use our time, interact with one another, and engage with the marketplace.

And there have been many positives.

However, as with most things, overuse of the mobile phone can become problematic. And if we’re not careful, the amount of time we spend on our mobile phone can impede on our health and relationships.

Mobile phone use can be an unhealthy distraction

Professor Paul Dolan, of the London School of Economics, last year raised concerns about the link between our mobile phone use, happiness, mental health, and productivity.

Suggesting that our mobile phone use resulted in multiple distractions and less attention being given to loved ones, he stated,

“We’re constantly having our attention distracted and distraction is a cost. When you switch tasks it requires attention. Paying attention to what you’re doing and who you are with and turning your phone off and enjoying being with your friends is much better for you than constantly checking your phone and checking emails.”

Helpful mobile phone statistics

Mobile marketing research conducted in 2013 supports Professor Paul Dolan’s view.

Findings show that 98% of text messages are read within just 5 seconds of being received, that the average person looks at their phone up to 150 times a day, and that the number of text messages sent in the UK rose from 40 million in 2006 to over 140 million in 2011.

This is evidence that the amount of time we ‘live’ on the screen has increased significantly over the years. If its not a computer monitor, its a tablet, an iPad, or a Smartphone.

Further research conducted by the US based stress management company meQuilibrium, showed evidence of how our mobile phone use impacts our well-being and relationships.

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Their most startling findings for me were those relating to our interaction with people.

  • 3 out of 5 of those who took part in the survey spent more time on computers than with significant others
  • 81% of people admitted to allowing mobile devices to interrupt conversation, mealtime, or playtime with family or friends.
  • Over 70% of those surveyed attributed electronic devices to stress in their life

These findings should compel us to give consideration to our mobile phone use.

Three things to do that will help you manage your mobile phone use

Whether you consider your mobile phone use an addiction or not, here are three easy steps I take to avoid a sense of being enslaved by mine, that you may find helpful.

#1. Put your mobile phone in another room during meal times

Family meals are arguably one of the few remaining traditions that work to strengthen family structures. So, just as our parents placed a high value on uninterrupted meal times, we do too. For us this means no television and no mobile phone use.

Yes, you got it! As a family ‘rule’, we don’t allow the use of mobile phones at the dinner table. Why? Because we want to encourage conversation and facilitate an environment where those present can connect and share with people in the room.

#2. Power off your mobile phone at night

I went through a period where I’d lie in bed slavishly responding to texts, emails, or any other notification. This often resulted in me being awake until late in the evening and feeling inadequately rested the following morning.

My lack of sleep had a negative impact on my ability to perform, on my mood, and my relationships. This wasn’t good, as sleep is necessary for our ongoing health, well-being, and effectiveness.

Developing an unhealthy habit of being on the mobile phone late at night is not good. Research is showing a correlation between heavy mobile phone use and sleeping problems, particularly among teenagers and young students.

#3. Screen your mobile phone during conversations and meetings

If we’re with someone and our mobile phone starts to vibrate or ring, what exactly warrants our immediate attention? What is considered an ’emergency’?

My view is that if there were a real emergency — a life or death situation — it wouldn’t be my mobile phone that someone would be calling, it would be the emergency services.

It’s for this reason that I’ll monitor and possibly reject calls if I’m in the middle of a conversation. Not because I don’t value or love the person calling, but because I think I owe the person I’m with the courtesy of my full attention.

Of course, there’ll be occasions where I may choose to take a call or respond to a message. But in reality these eventualities are rare, and they’re only done with the consent of the person I’m with.

It helps to be honest about how you use your mobile phone

Whatever your mobile phone use, its worth being honest with yourself and considering the impact its having on your emotional well-being and relationships with others.

I personally find my phone a helpful tool. But equally, I try to remain aware that my mobile phone use can quite easily become an addiction if I’m not careful.

Your thoughts

What are your mobile phone use habits? Which of the above steps would you find most helpful? What would you add or suggest to help others wanting to curb their mobile phone use? Share your thoughts and comments below!

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