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Seven simple steps to break your smartphone addiction

Seven simple steps to break your smartphone addiction

Excessive phone usage is linked to risk of developing insomnia, fatigue, unhealthy eating habits and impaired cognitive function
Hands bound by a smartphone charging cable.
Representational image | iStock

People spent a staggering 3.8 trillion hours on their mobile phones in 2021, according to app analytics firm App Annie’s report on global mobile usage. This means every smartphone user spent close to 4.8 hours a day on an average on their devices, a figure that grew by 30 per cent compared to usage in 2019. 

While some of this growth in mobile usage can be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic when we worked, played and socialized more on our phones, there has also been a general trend of increasing usage of smart devices across the globe. Mobile use in developing nations — where smartphones are the primary device to access the internet – is higher than in markets such as the US and Europe. 

But this rise in digital penetration is leading to its own set of problems, according to experts. 


‘Nomophobia’ or no-mobile phobia, a term coined about a decade ago with the advent of smartphones, is a modern syndrome that hits individuals probably without even their realizing it. 

This phobia of the modern age is defined as the fear of being out of contact with one’s mobile phone. Excessive phone usage has also been linked to an increased risk of developing insomnia, fatigue, unhealthy eating habits, impaired cognitive function, and metabolic conditions due to lower levels of physical activity. 

But excessive usage of smartphones is an addiction, and one that can be broken easily. Here are seven techniques you can use to wean yourself off smartphones: 

  1. Keep your phone in power saver mode – doing so restricts network access to several non-critical apps on your device, meaning they won’t connect to the internet and update as often as they usually do. 
  2. Cut the chats short – keeping conversations with people you speak with brief will free up your time and is an effective way to limit exposure to devices during the day. 
  3. Family time – limiting your phone usage at work, especially if you are in a job that requires a lot of interaction with devices, might not be practical, but doing so at home is advised. Make a habit of avoiding phones while eating, praying, or engaging in activities with your family. 
  4. Restrict use of apps – both Android and iOS operating systems today have features built in to monitor how long you use a particular app and even limit screen time. Setting limits for exposure to social networks is healthy. 
  5. Limit ‘push’ notifications – most apps try to get your attention through push notifications. Limiting the number of notifications an app can send you or turning them off altogether can help to restrict the number of times you pick up your device in a day. 
  6. Delete social-networking apps – The use of social networks has been linked to an increased risk of developing multiple mental-health and social conditions. Experts advise removing these apps from your phone or restricting usage to a few minutes a day. 
  7. Home rules – Experts are increasingly advising setting up a support system at home to be mindful of smart-device usage. Doing so in a non-confrontational manner is key, where family members look out for each other in terms of their exposure to devices. 

While following all these steps might seem daunting, integrating them into your lifestyle one at a time can help. Moreover, reducing screen time and socializing in a physical setting can help you break free from the clutches of your smartphone. Remember, only conscious steps to remedy a smartphone addiction will work. 


Nimhans Centre for Wellbeing 

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