10 steps to surviving the age of ‘always on’

What Mobile
January 17, 2019

Could wearing a wristwatch be the key to a better relationship with your phone? Can keeping a low battery reduce the time you spend staring at your screen?

Mobile phone insurance provider Better Buy Insurance has teamed up with a phone addiction expert to produce a 10-point guide for survival in the age of ‘always on’.

‘Always on’ culture is linked the phenomenon of ‘FOMO’ (the Fear of Missing Out) and the obligation many feel to check their phones constantly – whether that’s scrolling through Instagram, refreshing our emails or spending hours on messenger.

We’re more dependent than ever on our screens and many of us experience anxiety if we are separated from our phones for sustained periods of time.

The rise of the smartphone and its increased capabilities mean we are using it to communicate more and more, but research shows many of us are concerned and would like to cut down.

42% of Brits say they couldn’t get through the day without mobile communication, while YouGov data reveals that 38% admit to checking their phone too much. Some 72% even think phones should be banned in schools. So, what can we do to reduce our screen time and tackle our phone dependence?

In response to the findings, Better Buy Insurance enlisted the knowledge of addiction expert, Dr Mark Griffiths, to help Brits manage their phone use and fight back against rising expectations of being constantly contactable. Dr Griffiths is a psychologist and a Distinguished Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University.

He said: “We live in the ‘always on’ era and many people feel obliged to participate in that culture and ensure that they are constantly available to interact and respond 24/7. “This is why so many of us experience anxiety if we are unable to access our phone for whatever reason.“But the first thing to bear in mind is that people are no more addicted to smartphones than alcoholics are addicted to bottles. “It is the applications on smartphones that are potentially addictive, not the phones themselves.“And while those suffering a real mobile phone addiction number no more than a handful, there is a growing number who perhaps wish they didn’t use their apps as much as they do.”

Dr Griffiths gave up his smartphone several years ago, and though he isn’t necessarily encouraging others to follow suit, he says there are several ways to promote a healthier relationship with your phone.

“I’d encourage people wishing to use their phone or apps less to consider going without their phone for a few hours or allocating one day each week when you don’t use it at all. “I have given up my smartphone, but I haven’t given up social media, using the internet or sending emails. I simply access these functions through my laptop.“You can’t put a laptop in a pocket or a handbag like you can a mobile phone, and that is obviously quite a significant distinction.”

He adds: “There are steps you can take without giving your phone away at all, too.“Many phones now have features that record the amount of time spent using each app, and often the time for many people will escalate into a number of hours over the course of the day or week.“For many people, this won’t be a concern, because they may really enjoy using particular apps, but to others, it might be a bit of a wake-up call. “If you discover that you regularly spend ten hours in a week using a specific app you may begin to consider what else you could have done with that time. “Many apps send notifications very frequently, on the basis that the users will anticipate something good in the message they receive.

“Like in many spheres of our life, there are specific activities that trigger chemical reactions that manifest themselves as happy feelings, and apps are no different in this respect. “But there are often options to disable these notifications or to limit them to appear only once an hour. This is one way we can limit the time we spend looking at our phones.”

Facebook and Android have also taken note and both have recently introduced features to allow users to monitor and limit their usage, but is it really possible to use our phones to get away from them?

Click here to read Better Buy Insurance’s 10-point guide to surviving the age of ‘always on’.

 How healthy is your relationship with your phone and how does it compare to others? Click here to take our interactive quiz

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