Life

A third of young people are addicted to their phones – here's how to break up with yours

39 per cent of people aged 18-30 have reported symptoms of smartphone addiction
Liz Connor (PA)

A NEW study has found that 39 per cent of people aged 18-30 have reported symptoms of smartphone addiction, with more than two-thirds reporting having trouble sleeping too.

Here are some tips on how to hang up your phone habit:

1. Fade to grey:

Devoid of colour, your phone is no less functional, but it's a lot less appealing to your brain. Pamela Roberts, Priory psychotherapist (priorygroup.com) says: “Turn your phone to greyscale [most phones have this setting] and turn off all notifications, too.”

When you're in company, Roberts also advises turning your phone off completely and fully engaging with your companion.

2. Leave your phone ‘home alone'

Whether it's on your daily walk for fresh air or your trips to the supermarket, have periods where you physically leave your phone at home.

“To help, buddy up with a friend who also wants to reduce their phone time. There is strength in numbers," Roberts advises.

3. Change your lockscreen wallpaper

Your lockscreen isn't just for pictures of cute animals, it can act as a useful digital deterrent too. “You could try uploading a photo with the words ‘Isn't there a better way to spend my time?' – or another powerful inspiration quote,” says Roberts.

4. Out of sight, out of mind

Are you guilty of having your phone next to you at your desk?

“Putting it in a drawer or another room can stop you from getting into that compulsive cycle of habitually picking up your phone and scrolling,” says Dr Rachael Kent, a lecturer in Digital Economy.

5. Prioritise intentional phone use

“You waste a lot of time by opening your phone again and again, so batch your tasks together, so you aren't glued to your screen, which can cause you to go down the rabbit hole of compulsive scrolling,” says Dr Kent.

6. Get to the heart of the problem

Some phones now have screen time settings that allow you to set limits for individual apps, like WhatsApp and Instagram.

“Wellbeing settings that limit how much time you spend on an app can be useful, but sometimes, it can be like putting a plaster over the problem,” says Kent. “Instead, I think it's about setting your own habits.”

Dr Kent suggests analysing how you're feeling when you use your phone, especially when you're in a cycle of compulsively picking it up. Are you feeling unstimulated by your job, or could you be avoiding dealing with a problem at home?

“Setting some mental parameters is really important, as it shows that you're aware of when your smartphone use is becoming addictive and damaging to your own mental health.”

Dr Kent advises adopting better practices over time, emphasising that it takes "at least 14 days to change a habit".

“Don't try to moralise it,” she stresses. “Just try again tomorrow.”

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