13 Jun Cutting smartphone use by just one hour a day could leave you more satisfied with life
Several studies have shown that smartphone overuse is linked to obesity, neck pain, impaired sleep and poor mental health outcomes. So a team of researchers set out to monitor cutting smartphone use out completely, versus reducing it, to establish just how much smartphone too much smartphone.
Is there an ideal amount of time to use your smartphone?
The researchers recruited 619 people for their study and divided them into three groups. One group of 200 people put their smartphone away for the week, 226 reduced the amount of time they used the device by one hour a day, and 193 didn’t change anything at all in their smartphone use. All groups filled out questionnaires before the experiment and then were followed up both one month and four months afterward it had ended – when they had all gone back to their normal smartphone use.
The researchers discovered that in both the ‘intervention’ groups the following were reduced
- Smartphone use intensity.
- Problematic use tendencies.
- Depressive, and anxiety symptoms.
In both groups, overall life satisfaction and physical activity also increased.
A reduction in use was found to be better than giving up completely
Most effects were stronger and remained more steady over four months in the group that reduced their usage rather than in the group that gave up their smartphone completely. Interestingly, in the reduction group only the number of daily smoked cigarettes also decreased.
How can you find your own ‘sweet spot’?
The research seems to suggest that there is a ‘sweet spot’ of smartphone use. Something that backs up a previous study from Oxford University which had similar findings and described it as the ‘Goldilocks point‘ (ie, not too much, not too little, just right).
#1 Check-in with how you feel
Sit and monitor how you feel, both physically and mentally, before you pick up your smartphone. Do an all-over body check and get it touch with and name your emotional state.
#2 Pick up and start using your smartphone
Start using your smartphone as normal, carrying out the actions you intended to do.
#3 Check-in after a few minutes, again at the end of your use
After a few minutes of use, check-in with yourself again and then as many times as you want to throughout your usage. Do a final check-in at the end of the sessions. Make a note of what you were doing, the time you spent on your phone, and whether you noticed any change in your state.
Use this simple 3-step process over a couple of weeks to build up self-awareness of how your smartphone use is affecting you, and see if you can work out what your own sweet spot might be.
My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open
For more about how the digital world is impacting our wellbeing. Out now on Amazon and in all good bookshops.