Do you often find yourself saying "I just need to check my phone for a minute" or "I'm just making a quick call?” and then before you know it you find yourself scrolling aimlessly through TikTok swiping up like you’re playing the slots?
Before you know it, you've fallen into a social media black hole, continuously rotating between Twitter, Instagram and TikTok -- among others. Your 5-minute social media check-in has morphed into a mutinous, 2-hour-long scrolling session. You may not have a thirst for human flesh, like the traditional horror movie zombies but the glassy, empty look you get in your eyes as you swipe up isn’t exactly human, either. How's that for a scary Halloween story?
Are Smartphones Turning Us into Zombies?
61% of people check their phones within 5 minutes of waking up and the average person spends 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phone each day. You can get addicted to your phone just like you can with gambling and drugs. The unsettling truth is, most of us aren’t even aware its happening until it’s too late. That’s because too much time on your phone affects your brain chemistry; releasing dopamine, making you feel obsessive about it.
Floating Through Time and Space: Too Much Screen Time Kills Your Concentration
You know that feeling when you're so engrossed in your phone that you don't even notice when someone is talking to you?
That's what screen time does — it makes us lose track of time and space. It's not just about getting lost in a virtual world, though. According to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, using your phone in between important tasks decreases your ability to focus. Thus, your ability to learn can also be greatly affected.
There are real health consequences from too much screen time, which is why it's important to be aware of how much time you spend on your phone each day.
Neck and Back Pain Will Haunt You: Too Much Smartphone Use Can Kill Your Posture
According to a report by NPR, more than half of all adults in the U.S. suffer from back pain at some point during their lives. If you spend a lot of time hunched over your phone or tablet, those numbers will likely increase dramatically.
According to a study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. Researchers found that people who used their phones for more than two hours a day were more likely to slouch and have poor postures.
In addition to causing neck or back pain, poor posture can also lead to an increased risk of injury and even long-term health conditions like arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Make sure you take frequent breaks from using your smartphone and give your neck/back time to rest and recover whether it’s laying down flat for 10 minutes or using a deep tissue, pressure point massager to rub any tense muscles.
Who says we’re not living in a real-life episode of Black Mirror? But don’t get too spooked yet, there are a few practices you can put in place to keep your inner zombie at bay:
- Monitor, and cut back on, how much you open up your smartphone- A new study found reducing your smartphone usage by just an hour a day for a week can improve your mental health. So, check out those screentime monitoring features already installed in your phone, find out what your average daily use is, and make a conscious effort to cut back by setting a timer each time you unlock your phone.
- Make your phone less appealing, un-organize your apps- Experts say periodically rearranging the apps on your phone so that they’re more difficult to find can make it less likely to lure you into a mindless loop of checking and rechecking simply out of habit.
- Be mindful about what makes you reach for your phone to begin with- Is it when you're lonely? Bored? Sad? If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, your excessive smartphone use might be a way to self-soothe. Once you recognize what triggers that impulse become more self-aware and try other healthier methods of distraction, keep your hands busy by having fidget toys nearby. Try self-soothing with alternative, healthier methods such as massage therapy or essential oils.
Hey! You made it all the way to the end, hopefully you feel more aware of how smartphone use can affect your health, but before we go, here’s one last interesting fact for you: It’s recently been discovered that completely stopping smartphone usage was not found to be as beneficial for mental health. So, going cold-turkey is counter-productive to your health. Just like all the other fun things in life, smartphone use can be beneficial – when it’s done in moderation.
We hope you all have a joie-ful not-too-spooky Halloween!