I’ll be the first to admit. It is really wonderful to have SO much information at our fingertips. Gone are the days of having to head to the library’s microfiche machine to reference an old article. And I only DREAMED of the day that we could dial up a friend across the world and talk to them… ON SCREEN.
Well… those days have arrived, and with all these modern conveniences come some unexpected consequences. To our mental well-being, that is. Here are 4 ways that our smartphones are negatively impacting our wellbeing.
Negative Mental Impact of Smartphones
- They have stolen our attention.
Just when we start a conversation, BOOM. A buzz. A distraction. A diversion.
Sit down to do some work? BAM, in less than a minute, you reach for your phone, only to come up from air 10 minutes later and forget what you were about to start. Between notifications and news feeds (usually about things we actually want to read about or watch), smartphones have been designed to hold our attention as long as possible. And we’re more distracted than ever.
2. They’ve made it way too easy to work from anywhere.
As convenient as this is, our work / lifelines are one big blur. We’re homing from work. We’re working from home. Giving us almost no designated time to recharge, and creating the feeling of missing the mark in all domains of life.
3. They’ve isolated us.
Yes, it may be simpler than ever to blast out a quick text message to a friend or family member. And I never could have predicted that a device would know what I want to say next! Texts, emails, and messaging… all common forms of asynchronistic communication, have taken the place of telephone calls and in-person chats.
And while adults and children are “connected” to more people than ever, they’re lonelier than ever as well.
4. They have sucked up any remaining solitude.
Yes, we’re living in an overly scheduled world, and those last few minutes of potential quiet? Well, we nervously reach for our phone to fill the void. We are missing out on those rich moments of solitude. And it’s in those moments of silence that we often find solutions to our most pressing questions.
5. They’re interfering with our sleep.
It’s super easy to check something “really quickly” right before bed, and find yourself surfing apps or the internet.
Not only is your sleep being cut short because of your delayed bedtime, but exposure to blue light prior to bed can interfere with the production of melatonin and negatively impact your ability to fall asleep.
Tips to Creating Better Screen Time Habits
So what do we do about it?
Fortunately, there is a lot that we can do to clean up our screen time habits, but it takes discipline and intention.
Here are a few ways that we can begin to create better screen time habits.
1. Create phone-free zones.
Make dinner hour and/or social outings a phone free zone.
Leave it in your bag or in another room, and watch how much more effectively you can listen and connect to those who you care about.
2. Set clear work/life boundaries.
Determine the hours of your work day. Create a new normal by not responding to emails after a full day of work.
3. Perform an app audit to minimize scrolling.
Does that social media app REALLY need to be carried around with you, or is checking it from your laptop a few times a day sufficient? Don’t be afraid to use productivity tools and screentime apps to help you take back some control.
4. Sleep with your phone in a separate room, or block everything but your alarm.
Both will prevent late night scrolling, as well as sleep disruptions caused by insignificant notifications.
While smartphones have revolutionized the way we connect and access information, it is important to be aware of the negative impact they are having on our well-being. The effects that overuse has on our relationships, sleep patterns and focus continues to impact stress and anxiety levels for many. It is essential that we strike a balance between utilizing the amazing benefits of this not-so-new technology, while preserving our mental health through responsible and disciplined use.