According to a Deloitte survey, smart phone ownership in Australia rose to 84% in 2016. That is a significant portion of the population who are running their lives through their phone.
There is another statistic I heard, that people aged 18-25 have not used their smart phone to make a phone call in the last week, but are the highest users of the technology. Social media, apps, games, texts and emails have taken over the use of a telephone instead of making personal voice to voice contact.
I have a smart phone and it is incredibly handy and a little bit scary that my life, all my lists of things to do, my groceries, my contacts, my ideas and writing, family photos and videos are all sitting on this one device (luckily backed up by the iCloud!) But given that my life sits on this phone, I am using it a significant portion of the time and so are many people, sometimes to the detriment of personal relationships.
Councils around Australia are looking into fines for 'Smart Phone Zombies', pedestrians who walk around with their head down looking at their phone as many car accidents have been caused by their inattention.
Chiropractors are pleading for people to rectify their 'smart phone neck' habits of looking down as they are seeing significant impacts in the curvature of the spine from the weight of the head having moved away from its centre of gravity.
Social workers, counsellors and psychologists are commenting on the significant rise in anxiety and depression from people who passively scroll through social media or are always connected on their phone without connecting socially face to face.
These technological advances are brilliant if they serve us, but they have quickly become addictive in nature and we need to take control back to refresh our perspective on their role in our likes and curb the habit. Here are some tips:
Restrict your/your families phone use to certain times. It is so easy to just whip out your phone whenever you are waiting, bored or disengaged. It is as though we need to constantly be entertained. Many children have not discovered what it means to be bored and therefore are lacking the ability to create imaginative play because of their constant need to be entertained or placed in front of a smart device.
Set boundaries for yourself that you will only scroll through on public transport or in the evening. Perhaps when your family come home have a "Family Investment Bucket" where everyone places their phones for the evening during family time.
Perhaps set a rule that no one looks at their phone during dinner and prioritise healthy conversation. This is especially important in monitoring young children, pre-teens and teens to keep them connected with their family to help mitigate online bullying and unhealthy online relationships.
Have open conversations with your family about appropriate use of social media and inform them, as is age appropriate of dangers even if it is the negative pitfalls of comparing their life to someone else's highlight reel.
Quit social media for a period. It's amazing how many times we will scroll through and mindlessly watch someone elses' life in pictures. I have friends all over the world so social media is a very positive and brilliant way to connect, but has its pitfalls too. Perhaps quit Instagram for a while? See what you really miss? I had an unfortunate incident where my phone screen was broken and out of action for a week. During that time I had an old phone replacement where I could just send texts or make calls. That was a highly productive week for me without social media! I didn’t feel as though I missed a thing.
Install the Checky app on your phone. My husband and I installed this free app on our phone which tells you how many times you opened and checked your phone that day. I knew I was a heavy user but on one day where I was particularly bored I checked it frequently and before dinner Checky said that I had checked my phone 42 times! I was astounded! Having it in numbers has made me set myself a goal to keep that number as low as possible and to only use my phone when I really need it, not as a reflex because I cannot keep my mind occupied without it.
Head to the chiro or physio for an assessment Arrange to meet your chiro or physio and have them assess the wear and tear on your body that may be evidenced by phone usage and ask for tips on how to reduce the negative impact on your alignment.
Clear out and consolidate your apps and the ways that you use your phone. Clear the clutter in your phone. Get rid of apps you don’t use and simplify how you choose to use your phone to serve your lifestyle and what you need. Your body, physical, mental and emotional health will thank you for the space you are giving it.
Get outside and go for a walk, run, play and socialise! If you find yourself always sitting scrolling through your phone in your spare time and hours pass without you noticing, perhaps it's time to take control. Find a local health and fitness group, a walking club or tennis team and get out, get some fresh are connect and socialise. The world needs strong and connected communities and we could all do with a little more fresh air.
I walked into a restaurant recently to pick up dinner and there was a large table of adults sharing a meal; their children - 7 or 8 of them - were at a smaller table nearby, and every one of them had their heads down staring at a tablet or phone screen!
It was truly such a sad sight.
When I was a kid my siblings and I would have had an absolute ball - with each other - seated at our own table.