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Addicted to your smartphone? It may be affecting your mental health

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Excess use of smartphone and other devices may lead to attention, behaviour and self-regulation problems for adolescents already at risk for mental health issues, warns new research.

“Also, on days at-risk adolescents use technology more, they experience more conduct problems and higher ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) symptoms compared to days they use technology less,” said lead author of the study Madeleine George from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, US.

7 ways to get rid of smartphone addiction

7 ways to get rid of smartphone addiction

7 ways to get rid of smartphone addiction

Let’s face it. We can’t live without our smartphones. Most people are glued to their smartphones all the time. Worse, a lot of those people would rather look into their phones than have a conversation with a real person.
Customize notifications on smartphone
Only a few years ago, feature phones ruled the roost and having internet connectivity on the phone was considered a luxury.

Then smartphones came along, and things changed. BlackBerry launched its line of smart devices which changed the concept of what phones could do. And with the 2007 launch of the iPhone, phones started being viewed as mini-computers and not just devices one could make texts and calls with.

Take help from apps

The rest is history, and smartphones are now an essential part of our daily lives.

Today, there is actually a term for those who live with the fear of being without their smartphones – Nomophobia.

For those who feel like they are too dependent on their smartphones, maybe it’s time to take a break and start paying attention towards the better things. While a smartphone is an essential daily gadget in today’s world, it’s not something that one should be addicted to.

With that, we present you some ways by which you can get rid of your smartphone addiction.

Customize notifications on smartphone

The lesser notifications you receive, the less likely you are to check your smartphone. That’s because people are so addicted to their smartphones so much that it actually takes an effort to ignore notifications. Luckily, notifications can be limited so that they are not that much of a bother.

Limit smartphone usage

Now by this, we don’t mean that one should decide to not check their smartphones more than 20 times a day. But what can be done is to fix particular times when the device would be used and when it wouldn’t be. For instance, it’s advisable to keep smartphones away during meals or social gatherings.

Get rid of unnecessary apps

Social media apps like Facebook and Twitter are not absolutely essential on smartphones. This may sound like an impossible idea, but you can really do without them. The list of unnecessary apps is endless. This not only frees up time that can be utilized better, but also releases the device’s storage.

Turn phone off before going to bed

This should be pretty obvious, but it’s still not practiced by most people. Switch off the phone before going to sleep. It’s as simple as that. Hell won’t freeze over if your phone stays switched off for a few hours, and that’ll help you sleep better as well.

Take help from apps

There are a number of apps on the Play Store that actually help you limit your smartphone usage. Some of these include Rescue Time and AppDetox. You can download these apps and configure them as per your convenience to keep your smartphone usage under check.

Use the old-fashioned way of keeping track of time

It has almost become our second nature to grab our smartphones every time we want to know what time it is. But this is not where it stops. Once we check the time, we end up checking (and acting upon) everything from WhatsApp messages to emails.

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So it’s best to resort to wearing wrist watches one again, and relying only on them for checking time. Also, actual alarm clocks can be used instead of setting alarms on smartphones.

Switch back to a feature phone

So if you have a serious smartphone addiction, and none of the above mentioned points help, you probably need an equally extreme measure to tackle the issue. You can actually use a feature phone for a few weeks, and then get back to a smartphone once you feel you have overcome your smartphone addiction. It won’t be easy, but it will be every bit worth it.

The research, published in the journal Child Development, looked at associations between adolescents’ mental health symptoms and how much time they spent each day texting, using social media and using the internet.

For the study, 151 young adolescents completed surveys on smartphones about their daily digital technology use.

They were surveyed three times a day for a month and were assessed for mental health symptoms 18 months later.

The youth participating were between 11 and 15 years old.

The adolescents spent an average of 2.3 hours a day using digital technologies.

The researchers found that on days when adolescents used their devices more — both when they exceeded their own normal use and when they exceeded average use by their peers — they were more likely to experience conduct problems such as lying, fighting and other behavioural problems.

In addition, on days when adolescents used digital devices more, they had difficulty paying attention and exhibited attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder symptoms.
The study also found that young adolescents who spent more time online experienced increases in conduct problems and problems with self-regulation — the ability to control one’s behaviour and emotions — 18 months later.

However, the study also found that using technology was linked to some positive outcomes. On days when adolescents spent more time using digital technologies they were less likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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