According to researchers at the University of Scranton, the three most popular New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, get organized, and spend less, save more.
All worthy goals, for sure. I’m keeping mine simple this year — simple as 1-2-3.
- Drink more water.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Lighten up on the iPhone.
The first two need no explanation. The third means I’m going to strive to cut back on habitual use of that handheld device. This means reducing, not eliminating, my use of the iPhone. This means generally just being a smarter user about when and where to use it — and why I’m doing so.
It’s unrealistic to even think about severing the cord. As a communications professional, I rely on my phone for tasks big and small — texting colleagues, doing quick research, taking photos, checking email and keeping up with the news. As a consumer, it’s handy for maps, directions and business profiles, and a gateway to social media.
But there’s a time for everything. And my epiphany came last month as I was getting ready for a massage. I’d just begun to unbutton my shirt when a text popped up. I picked up the phone, paused — and then put it down.
It was from a co-worker. It was my day off. I was about to indulge in the luxury of an hour-long massage. Why would I even read the text, let alone respond to it at that particular moment? What would it hurt to delay reading and responding until after the massage?
At that moment, I knew I’d work this into my resolutions for the new year. No more checking the iPhone before I even roll out of bed. More intentional, less habitual, use of the device.
A few numbers to chew on, courtesy of a 2016 study by dscout.com, a Web-based research firm:
Q. How often do we touch our phones?
A. Oh, only about 2,617 times a day?
That means that people tapped, swiped and clicked 2,617 times each day, on average. The heaviest users did so twice as many times — 5,427 touches a day.
Q. How about sessions—how many separate times a day do people actually pick up their mobile phone to use it?
A. The average user engaged in 76 separate phone sessions a day. Heavy users (the top 10%) averaged 132 sessions a day.
Paul Lewis, writing in The Guardian, says these signs of phone addiction aren’t healthy.
“There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called ‘continuous partial attention,’ severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off. ‘Everyone is distracted,’ (34-year-old tech executive Joshua) Rosenstein says. ‘All of the time.’ ”
Read more about the dscout study here: Putting a Finger on Our Phone Obsession
Image: Digital Synopsis