According to psychologists in the U.K., checking your phone at least a dozen of times a day can be a sign of unconscious behavior that’s “extremely repetitive.”
Can people get addicted to their smartphones?
A unique study, which was spearheaded by researchers from Lancaster University and the University of Lincoln, is one of only a handful that examined smartphone usage based on what individuals do instead of what they can remember.
Data from other studies have yet to determine if people are “addicted” to smartphones because of over-reliance on their own estimates or beliefs. However, new research concerning smartphone behavior has shown that even if individuals underestimate their smartphone use, their behavior remains consistent. Because of this, researchers can utilize a more accurate approach when examining smartphone behaviors. (Related: Constantly checking your phone actually makes you more stressed…to the point that you get anxious when you’re not “connected”.)
In the study, which was published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, researchers analyzed usage within 13 days via a simple smartphone app. The app creates time stamps when usage begins and ends.
Using this data, the researchers determined the total hours of usage and the number of checks per day. A “phone check” was defined as any usage that lasted less than 15 seconds.
The findings of the study revealed that every person had “repetitive and consistent” smartphone usage. It also revealed that future phone checking frequency can still be determined even with inadequate data.
The findings also revealed that self-report tools like standard questionnaires or surveys can’t predict these behaviors. According to Dr. David Ellis, these methods have previously been confirmed to be inaccurate.
The authors explained that if a person checks their phone at least 80 times in one day, it’s possible that the behavior is also repeated daily.
Dr. Tom Wilcockson, from Lancaster University, commented that being a constant checker could imply the absentminded use of smartphones. This behavior may be “habitual and unconscious.”
Heather Shaw, from the University of Lincoln, noted that this can be due to the fact that smartphone use is automatic and not everyone may accurately remember the act of checking their phones.
Dr. Ellis concluded, “To fully understand the effect of screen time on health and well-being, we probably need to consider measures of smartphone [behavior] as well as self-report.”
Tips for a digital detox
If you’re on your phone constantly but you want to try a digital detox, these tips can help you get started:
- Detox regularly – Try going to the bathroom without your phone, or turn it off when you’re having dinner with the whole family. Leaving your phone can help your brain “reset.”
- Limit notifications – Most apps on your phone have notifications that draw your attention, but you can turn these off through your phone’s settings. Push notifications can also be turned off per app.
- Set a schedule – Limit the time you spend checking social media or your emails. Try to fight the urge to check even if you’re not waiting for an important message. You can also delete the Facebook app on your phone, which means you can only check your account from a computer.
- Turn off auto-play – Occasionally binge-watching your favorite show is fine, but doing this every day can be bad for your overall health. When using streaming services like Netflix, disable auto-play so you don’t spend countless hours staring at a screen.
- Use an alarm clock – Using an actual alarm clock instead of an app on your phone can help make a digital detox more effective. Keep your phone away from your bed or nightstand so you won’t feel the urge to check your notifications.
Learn more about the benefits of a digital detox at Mind.news.