• Kamron Collins-Johnson

Are you in a toxic relationship...with your phone?

Have you ever been in a relationship that you loved but you knew probably wasn’t a good fit? You know the type, you always felt emotionally exhausted after an encounter, they tried to control you by guilt tripping you, and they were easily jealous. Or maybe you know what it’s like to feel addicted to something, like sugar. You buy the Oreos and put them in cabinet…and then all you can think about are those little chocolate cookies with the oh-so-delicious cream filling and how they fit perfectly in your hand. And before you know it, you’ve eaten half the container.

Now, think about your phone.

After scrolling through social media, does it leave you feeling exhausted? Or, you’re watching a video on YouTube and the next one automatically starts playing because it wants to keep you in the app. Or better yet, you hear the email notification go off and you just can’t stop yourself from checking who emailed you? If this sounds like you, then you my friend may be addicted to your phone. We’ve all been there. Back when I was teaching high school, I was on Snapchat with several of my teacher friends which doesn’t sound too bad, right? But of course, all the students were on Snapchat too and sometimes they would forget to silence their phones before class started so when they’d get a Snapchat notification, I found myself wanting to see who sent them a snap! It was at that point I knew I had a problem and things needed to change! We’re like Pavlov’s dogs salivating but instead of a bell, it’s when our phones ping. Which is exactly what it wants. And if you don’t already know this, certain apps were developed to keep you on the app. How many times have you gone to YouTube to find a how-to video and then two hours later you’re like, how did I get to watching Oliver the Beagle takes a nap?

If you haven’t watched The Social Dilemma, you should really check it out. It dives a lot deeper into how social media messes with our psyches but the biggest takeaway for me was how many of the developers of apps like Facebook and Pinterest don’t let their own children be on social media. Their own children! They know how toxic they can be. Now, obviously, many of us use social media for good and it’s how we communicate with our customers or donors to let them know how we’re doing and what we’re working on. But more often than not, it can be a huge time suck and a total drain of your energy.

At this point, I’m sure you’re like, “Ok Kamron, we get it.” But I have to ask you, “are you sure you get it?” And here’s why. So many of us use our phones for a multitude of reasons. For example, I use mine as my alarm clock and so it’s always right by my bed. Some days, it’s literally been the last thing I look at before I go to sleep and the first thing I look at when I get up in the morning. And how often do you get up and look at your phone first thing only to see the morning news headlines or someone’s negative post on Facebook and it totally ruins your morning or worse, your entire day? Think about it, this little computer that fits in our pockets runs us rather than the other way around. You may be thinking, “I’m not one of those people who can’t put my phone down.” But let me ask you this, have you ever been looking all over your house for your phone and you’re starting to panic because you can’t find it and so your brain starts wondering where you could have possibly left it and you’re retracing the steps of your day and panic keeps rising and then you look down at your hand and it’s right there? Tell me again how your phone is not in control. So let’s talk about what you can do to start overcoming the addiction that is your phone.

First, go through the notifications for every single app on your phone and turn them off. If you struggle with this, then start slow and turn off notifications for a few apps at a time. Second, delete your social media apps from your phone. Again, if you struggle to do this, then set timers for yourself for how long you’ll allow yourself to be on those apps. Remember, you don’t have to be on the app to post. You can use a social media scheduler such as Buffer or Hootsuite. Yes, you’ll want to interact with your people, but you don’t have to do it every second of every day. In fact, this is a good way to enlist your team – either hire someone or utilize a volunteer to manage your social media.

Next, change your newsfeed. Do you really need to know the news every second of every day? The short answer is no. Think about your grandparents. How many times a day did they watch the news? If they were like my grandparents, probably just once a day. Granted, mine were farmers so they were up with the chickens and only watched the evening news. But even on the other side of my family, they had five kids they had to get ready for school in the mornings before going off to work themselves. Do you think they had time to watch the news all day long? Hardly.

Buy an old school alarm clock, you can find them for a few bucks on Amazon. Or, here’s a novel idea, read a book before bed don’t let your phone be the last thing you look at before you shut your eyes. In fact, keep your phone in another room. Now, if you have teenagers who are driving, keep your phone by your bed. You can set the do not disturb feature at a certain time and only let certain numbers ring through.

Now I know this all sounds a little judgy on my part. But I’m telling you that if you give some of my suggestions a whirl, I think you’ll quickly find how much better you feel and how much more time you have to get your daily chores done.

The moral of the story here is to understand that YOU are in control of your phone, not the other way around.

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