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September 24, 2023

Is Endless Work Contributing to Your Smartphone Addiction?

phone addiction

Picture anxiously sitting by the phone (a rotary one for artistic effect) waiting for it to ring. Since the invention of the phone, waiting for an important call is agonizing; but, I’ll argue it used to be simpler. You could walk away. Leave the phone behind and rely on your answering machine to inform you when you got home if you missed anything important.

Has it really changed? Yes. Now there’s no escape.

Why else would people feel the need for a digital detox? If this testimonial is representative, it sure seems that CPAs are a good market for it:

I didn’t realize how big of an impact the [digital detox] retreat had until I got home. When I was back at work, I felt focused, alert, and calm.

Karen // Partner at a CPA Firm

While you can turn your mobile phone off, you still feel the itch to turn it back on and check for a message. You can’t totally disconnect. The temptation is still looming in your back pocket or purse.

And with BYOD policies running rampant in the workplace, it’s not just Facebook notifications vexing you. It’s work. Endless work, intermingled with everything else.

Research suggests that there is a perpetual tug of war caused by your smartphone and your proximity to it. Our dependence on these devices really have some negative ramifications. If you’re not willing to wait for a smartphone addiction rehab center to open, we’ll cover some simpler, less expensive options.

Option 1: Leave the phone at home

If you go cold turkey to try escaping your smartphone’s grasp, you start to feel nomophobia. It’s that panic you feel when separated from your mobile phone. So, you make sure it’s close by. You convince yourself it’s necessary. You have to be available for urgent requests, just in case.

Option 2: Keep it with you, just on silent

And if it’s close by, you will be compelled to check it. A study by British researchers found participants checked their phones an average of 85 times per day! This habitual behavior is hard to break. It takes a conscious effort and even then is difficult. I tell myself I’m not going to look at my phone, then I do. I can’t help it.

Some app developers have tried to address this with a creative way to keep you focused. One, called Space, and advertises that it “uses neuroscience and AI to help you kick app addiction. No shame. No sponsors. Just a little breathing room to help you take back control.”

Not a bad idea.

We need someone to combat the “teams of neuroscientists, and product engineers [that] are building their services, laced with dopamine, to keep you hooked” as one Medium blogger put it.

Option 3: Turn it off

Okay, how about turning it off? According to Science Daily’s recent study, the mere presence of your phone is distracting too and impacts your cognitive capacity. Even if it’s off! The phone is not ringing or notifying you of anything. It’s just sitting there. Researches said, “Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone, but that process — the process of requiring yourself to not think about something — uses up some of your limited cognitive resources. It’s a brain drain.”

Am I the only one in this miserable predicament? We can’t win. That digital detox might be worth the money. Who’s in?

Image: Rohit Tandon on Unsplash

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