Dear Barb—Phone Smart?

Dear Barb:

Help! I’m addicted to my phone, and I hate it! It’s the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing at night.  At least I don’t bring my phone into the bedroom with me at night like some of my friends do.  But I’m always checking my phone, even when I am out with friends.  While watching a movie with my boyfriend we both check our Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and emails.  My boyfriend doesn’t see a problem with it, but he doesn’t do it as much as I do.  At times I try not to look at my phone, but it’s almost like a compulsion and I give in and check it out.  I have gotten up from the dinner table in the middle of a meal when I hear that familiar ping.  I really want to stop doing this and become more engaged and mindful in my daily life.  Do you have any tips that can make this easier for me? I don’t think I can just go cold turkey.  Thanks, Maddison.

Hi Maddison:

Being addicted to technology is a major problem these days.  It just seems to creep up on you, and before you know it you are constantly checking and rechecking your social media.  There are many things you can do to wean yourself off your smartphone.  The most important thing is to keep your phone out of your bedroom and you seem to be doing that already.  You probably have a routine that you follow most days and checking your phone is just automatic.  Try to change your routine and check your phone at different times during the day.  For example, rather than check three or four times in the morning, decide to wait until noon.  Then maybe wait until mid afternoon or dinner time.  If you play games, like candy crush, designate an hour in the evening just for playing.  A recent study indicated that the average person checks their social media approximately 46 times a day.  That is a lot of time spent looking at a screen rather than being engaged in your every daily life.  If you are finding it difficult to ignore that familiar ping, then mute your phone.  This will reduce the temptation.  As well, you could set your phone to airplane mode or better yet turn it off completely.  If you turn it to airplane mode it will take less time to power up than if it was turned completely off.  Also you could install apps that will show you how many times a day you are checking your social media.  Some people try to convince themselves that they really are not on their phones that often, but with these apps you will not be able to fool yourself.  A number of these apps are free and some you can get for   a nominal monthly fee.  Once you get over your addiction you can uninstall them.  Following are a few of the apps that are available for tracking usage: Checky (free for Android and iOS), AppDetox (free for Android), Onward (free for iOS).  Hope this information is helpful.  Spend more time plugged into the real world, rather than staring at a phone screen.

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Email your questions to  Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed.  This column is for entertainment only.  The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
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