Sometime in the last few years, a new word entered the lexicon — phubbing. It refers to snubbing a person you are with by concentrating on your smartphone screen instead of that person. Screen addiction has become an epidemic — nowadays, most if not all people instinctively tend to check their phones every second minute. It could be to check the score of their favourite team or to play 'just one' session of their favourite game, among scores of other reasons.
Several studies have suggested that excessive use of the smartphones could affect the user's mental health. Many experts have also warned about screen addiction. Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, has written about how apps are designed to engage users all the time.
"We frequently get young patients who are otherwise healthy but believe their hearing has been impacted by smartphone overuse," Dr Sanjay Sachdeva, head of the ENT department at the Max Super Speciality Hospital in Saket, New Delhi, told the Economic Times.
"We are surrounded by electronic buzz — that is multiple devices," Dr Sachdeva said. "This is leading to unexplained issues in otherwise normal, healthy patients without any complaints of BP, diabetes or other problems. Users should take basic precautions like keeping phones, chargers out of reach when not in use."
"Children aged between 10-25 have disruptive mood dysregulation these days," says Uthista Ram Thota, a psychologist with YourDOST.com,"Because of the excessive smartphone usage they tend to have anger fits and outbursts which are not usual".
India is one of the world's fastest growing digital economies. It has the second biggest Internet and smartphone user base in the world. A recent report by Ericsson suggests that mobile subscriptions in India are slated to cross 1.4 billion by 2022. In this era of rapid technological strides, it is important to set some limits on technology usage for individual well-being. Here are some simple tips to get rid of screen addiction.
1. Set aside a specific time for off-work Internet usage
It is hard to get off the Web when you're working in the office. Almost every other task needs the use of the Internet. So, after work, you need to ensure a certain specified time away from the screen to give your body and mind some respite from the Internet world. It is also advisable to turn off notifications and alerts on your smartphone during this time.
2. Use an app to control your usage
If you do not have the self-control to turn off the phone, you can take help from apps. Something like RescueTime can suggest the amount of time you should spend on particular applications. This software works on websites as well as smartphone applications. On the other hand, AppDetox allows you to set rules around your own usage to limit your screen time.
3. Turn off the colour in the screen
One way to diminish your interest in your gadget with a screen is to change its colour calibration to grey-scale. No one would enjoy scrolling through their Twitter timeline or watching YouTube videos in the black and white. For iOS, you can turn on the greyscale through Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut > Colour Filters menu. In Android, go to settings and search for the 'Accessibility' menu. Typically, newer phones come with the greyscale option.
4. Uninstall the most addictive apps
Social media and games are among the key culprits behind your screen addiction. It always helps to remove those apps from your phone, at least for a while. You can surely access Facebook or Twitter once or twice in a day regardless and now you won't be tempted to check your timeline every other minute.
5. Use a feature phone for some time
Smartphones are the biggest reason behind our near constant screen-time. There is so much on offer on these devices that we end up using them for hours. So, it might not be a bad idea to switch to a feature phone to handle your basic communication. You might feel deprived for a few days but you will have a lot more time to engage in off-screen activities.
6. Put away your phone before sleeping and use a real alarm clock
We have all had those nights where we spent hours awake in bed because we just wanted to 'check something for 5 minutes.' It is a good idea to put your phone out of reach once you are in bed. It is also advisable to get an actual alarm clock so that you don't check your phone the moment you are awake.
7. Keep 'no phone' areas in the house
To engage with people and family more, you should designate areas in your house where phones are not allowed. For instance, while having lunch or dinner, people shouldn't be allowed to use smartphones. That would automatically reduce the pressure of staring at the screen.