How Breaking Your Cell Phone Addiction Can Help Your Grades
We all know that cell phones can make life a lot easier, right? But did you know that they may actually be hurting your life and your school work more than you think?
Recently, scientists have begun studying how cell phones, and social media in particular, impact our lives, and studies have shown that they can cause everything from shorter attention spans to increased levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
One of the biggest problems, it seems, is that cell phones and social media give us an illusion of feeling like we’re more connected to each other. We can text our friends day or night, communicate instantly with them over SnapChat and follow their lives through their Instagram feeds. But unfortunately, being connected in a virtual world isn’t the same as being connected in real life. In fact, the more time we spend alone with our phones and the less time we spend with other people in person, the more depressed we become. Does that sound like something your parents would say? Well, it’s actually true and studies are proving it.
The Monitoring the Future survey, which is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has been asking teens questions about their lives since 1975, and recently, the data has shown that teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy than those who spend time doing in-person activities.
In addition, all the time you spend on SnapChat or Instagram is certainly making it harder to keep your grades up and finish all your schoolwork. Those poor grades you’re getting won’t lift your mood one bit. It’s a downward spiral and it’s clear to see that the so-called smartphone may actually be making you perform in not-so-smart ways.
Tired of this blog already? Not surprising. According to a recent article in The Atlantic, children and teens who use a media device right before bed are more likely to sleep less than they should, more likely to sleep poorly and more than twice as likely to be sleepy during the day.
Sleep experts warn that the blue light emitted by cell phone screens decreases our body’s production of melatonin, which controls our circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep. On top of that, many students report going to sleep with their cell phones either on their pillow or just next to their bed, buzzing throughout the night when they get texts or emails.
And, of course, not getting enough sleep makes it harder to concentrate at school or focus on your homework, which leads to poorer performance in the classroom.
Putting Down the Cell Phone
With all of the negative effects of cell phones, it makes sense that we should limit our time on them. But if reading that sentence makes you shudder, you’re not alone. Many of us are so addicted to our phones that separating ourselves from them feels unthinkable. In fact, so many people experience nomophobia, or fear of being without their mobile device, that researchers at Iowa State University have devised a test to measure the phenomenon.
But that’s all the more reason to limit our cell phone screen time; it can do wonders for our self-esteem and mental health and should lead to better grades as well.
How to Curb Your Cell Phone Addiction
Here are a few suggestions for ways to limit your cell phone use and kick your smartphone addiction.
- Try a Digital Detox
Not convinced that your cell phone habit is actually an addiction? We challenge you to try a digital detox – 24 hours of not checking your cell phone at all. We promise you it’s going to be harder than it sounds, but you’ll also be amazed by how much freedom you’ll feel when you are forced to be more present to what is going on around you.
- Don’t Use Your Phone As an Alarm Clock
If a phone-free day sounds too difficult, try taking smaller baby steps to reduce your habit. One way is to stop using your phone as an alarm clock, so you won’t be tempted to bring your phone to bed with you or see it the first thing when you wake up.
- Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode
Need to focus on your homework? Avoid the constant distractions of getting texts and notifications by switching your phone onto airplane mode for a solid hour. After working for an hour, give yourself permission to check your phone. If you can, gradually increase the time that you put the phone on airplane mode to have longer stretches of concentration.
- Turn Off Your Notifications
Another way to decrease distractions from your phone is to turn off your notifications so you don’t hear a buzz every time someone likes one of your Twitter posts or a new article is posted on CNN.com. Trust us, all of the info will still be there when you go to check your phone a few hours later.
- Announce to the World That You’re Taking a Break
A big thing that drives us to compulsively check our phones is the belief that we have to respond to every text, email and message immediately. If you want a little more serenity in your life, let people know that you are trying to take a break from your phone so you don’t feel as much pressure to check it compulsively. Then give yourself permission to check your phone for a few minutes once an hour, instead of looking at it every few minutes.
- Install an App to Help You Quit
We know, we know. This sounds counter-intuitive. But actually, there are several apps out there that will help make you more aware of just how addicted you are to your phone and can help you break the habit. Most of these apps are available for Android due to Android’s open platform, but there are a few that work for the iPhone as well. Here are a few to try:
- Checky (Available for both iPhones and Androids): Shows you how many times you check your smartphone each day and offers stats about your use over time.
- BreakFree (Available for Androids): Tracks how much time you spend on different apps each day. It can send you notifications if you are checking your phone too much and turn off notifications and WiFi at set times.
- Moment (Available for iPhone): Tracks how much time you are spending on your phone each day and will block you from using your phone after you’ve reached your daily limit.
If you are reading this blog on your smartphone, take a moment to reflect on the irony, but then go to your settings and put your iPhone into airplane mode, or go search the Play Store on your Android phone for an App that could help you quit the habit. The world got along just fine before cellphones and curing yourself of your smartphone addiction could be one of the smartest things you do today.