IN THIS DIGITAL DAY-AND-AGE IT’S NO SURPRISE THAT WE’RE A LITTLE ADDICTED TO OUR GADGETS, BUT WHEN DOES OUR ADDICTIONS GO TO FAR? AND HAVE WE ALREADY REACHED THAT POINT? IMI BYERS FINDS OUT WHAT YOU CAN DO TO FIGHT YOUR DIGI-ITCH
Edited by Natalie Whitmore
I was maliciously cold-called by my brother asking me to sponsor him on his digital detox whereby he is not allowed to watch or go on any TV/phone/computer/tablet screen for 5 days. My brother is 9. I know for a fact that this will be hard for him because for a large proportion of the time that I spend with him he is entirely engaged and transfixed on Mindcraft or some other game, either vividly describing every move or deathly silent with the act of concentration. This makes me sad.
When I was 9, the biggest problem that my elder brother and I encountered was how to make the sheets stay up on the bed to keep our fort made out of cushions and blankets from collapsing; or how to best hide our mini fires that we made out in the garden. Bear Grylls watch out.
Nowadays, gone are the hours of stamping out and sweeping burnt bits of paper discreetly under bushes, or running around like maniacs. Instead, you will see children and people of all ages glued to screens, excelling up in the world of candy crush, updating the masses with their tweets and affairs, hashtagging and following to their heart’s content. I wonder that if all of this technology and unlimited cyberspace had been available to me at an earlier age, would I have missed out on my fort-making survival camps, and would I be a star on world-class Fifa or an Instagram clone? We will never know…
Although I hate to admit it, even I feel stressed without direct access to my phone. I am very familiar with the horrible feeling that arises in the pit of your stomach when you think that you’ve left your phone at home or in the car. I hate feeling un-accessible.
But then, I also don’t like the lack of ability to pay attention and short focus span my phone has gradually led me towards. When I am out with friends, I want to be able to talk to them face-to-face. I want to be able to see the laughter first-hand instead of translating a “haha” or “lol”. Yet more and more commonly, I see friends sitting together, not talking to each-other, and absorbed by their phones. I bet they’re probably talking to friends online, arranging to meet up later whereby they will continue the exact same routine, and further continue to ignore the company they are in.
Another symptom of constant-phonophelia is the occurrence of the phantom phone vibration. We have all experienced it at some point I’m sure: when you think your phone has gone off in your pocket, and when you look to check your screen remains clear and undisturbed? That my friend is phantom phone vibration. It isn’t based on psychological hallucinations but scientific evidence actually suggests it is just our perception systems trying to keep up with the ever-moving and complex environment we have created for ourselves. The consistent vibration and checking of these screens can confuse the processes used to translate it in our brains. Spooky to think that our excessive use with these gadgets and gizmos can actually mess up the networks in our brain.
Unfortunately, completely wiping out phone usage is almost impossible, but here are a few ways you can cut down on the textual turbulence and spend more time in the real-world as opposed to cyber space:
- When out with friends, make a deal that you all put your phones in the middle of the table. The first person to grab their phone to start surfing or texting buys the next round! It’s a win/win – drinks for everyone, and you are all engaged with each other’s company instead of with someone or something else on the other end of the phone.
- Download apps such as ‘Moment’ which records your phone usage, allows you to set daily limits, and gives nudges and warnings to keep you on track.
- Charge your phone outside your bedroom so you are not so easily tempted.
- Log out of Facebook, Instagram and all the other social media every time you use it. The extra effort of having to log in again and again may put you off going on so frequently.
To all of those who try any of these techniques – good luck! (Just don’t update your progress via twitter and Instagram every 5 minutes!)