While smartphone addiction is a fairly new concept, a Two “T” till Tea formula seems to be beneficial in countering it. It involves no smartphone days on Tuesdays and Thursdays till evening Tea. By making rules for yourself and limiting your phone usage it may help lower the compulsive need to use the phone at regular intervals.
The pandemic has forced us to stay indoors shrouding us with uncertainty, anxiety, and stress. The past few months have been nothing but extremely grueling and a roller coaster ride for most of us. Online education and work from home have become the new normal. The new normal requires us to be glued to the digital screens for hours attending classes, submitting assignments, working, and even using it for entertainment. Thus, there has been an increasing dependence on smartphone phones and laptops for doing day-to-day activities.
Psychologists caution that this new normal is adversely affecting our mental health and leading to increased chances of smartphone addiction. Is it fair to call this addiction or is it just an overdependence on Smart Phone, the internet, and social media? Studies reveal that this is just the tip of the iceberg as there is a very thin line between addiction and overdependence. This generation which is growing in the digital world has begun to believe digital to be the only way of life. They cannot imagine a lifestyle without digital inclusions and any activity that does not need Smart Phone devices seems incongruous to them.
We as parents and guardians need to curb the over-dependence or Smart Phone addiction of our children as well as ourselves. We need to understand that this new normal is not the real normal. It is normal for human beings to interact with each other physically using the five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. In the present times the seeing part has been taken over by digital cameras and the hearing part has been taken over by audio calls and the other requirements of sense of smell, touch has been pushed out of these digital interactions.
Earlier people used to say there are two worlds that we live in, the outside world and the inside world. What you seek inside is your world and whatever happens around you with all your sensory perceptions is the external realm. Today, there is another invisible realm that has crept in and that is the digital world. Real-world or the perception of it is a mix of many sensory inputs that we receive. They may be real inputs or artificial make-believe sensory inputs. These sensory inputs make us believe that we are in a certain environment for example movies create sound, visuals and they make us believe as if it is happening for real. Currently, there seems to be a disconnect between the inner and the outer world because of the excessive usage of smartphone phones.
We are fast approaching the brink of smartphone addiction. The best way to handle it is by taking cognizance of the situation and taking conscious measures to counter it. Like any other addiction, smartphone addiction also needs a direct approach. Simplicity is the best form of being. Basic steps that can be followed for a way out of smartphone addiction are as follows:
- Acceptance of the addiction.
- Committing to overcome the addiction.
- Disassociating yourself. Online classes are means but not a way of life. Know the difference between essential and frivolous.
- Find innovative means to make constant efforts to do things physically.
Over some time, to overcome smartphone addiction certain habits can be formed and are encouraged. Screen time can be replaced with family activities, like playing games – chess, Ludo, monopoly, discussions on current topics. This will encourage children and adults alike to sharpen their knowledge and hone their skills. Activities that require mental and physical involvement, for example, playing chess, doing a physical workout can be done to pass time. Going back to reading paperback books instead of e-books can also reduce screen time. Instead of depending on virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google assistant, we can go to old-school methods of making notes and referring to books and magazines for relevant knowledge and information. At least, two meals in the day should be shared with the family members. A reward system for children for contribution in household chores can also be beneficial to take time off of Smart Phones. Parents should lead by example by implementing a no-phone policy and limiting it to emergency calls only after 9:30 pm. Encourage sleep hygiene by following practices like listening to relaxing music, a glass of milk with turmeric powder. The habit of journaling can be cultivated in children. Sleep hygiene by following practices like listening to relaxing music, a glass of milk with turmeric powder can also be encouraged among children. By setting monitoring and limiting the time spent on social media steps can further be taken to reduce it. hobbies like painting, drawing, sketching can be encouraged in children as they can be further used to tap into their potential. Developing healthy habits like these, can be beneficial in replacing your screen time with these activities or at the very least, reduce your screen time.<
- Dr. Naveen Gupta is a behavioral scientist, management consultant, and trainer. He is currently the Director of the Hindustan Institute of Management and Computer Studies, SGI.
- Ajira Asthana is a research scholar and visiting faculty at Hindustan Institute of Management and Computer Studies, SGI,