Smartphones and personal development

Smartphones and personal development

How smartphones affect our lives and what we can do with this.

We are using them every day – for work-related matters, to meet new people, to check the news, to have fun (games, music, videos). It becomes a sign of recent times that we have this tiny device in our pockets which replaced many other devices.

We called them smartphones but are they really smart in terms of impact on our lives? What are the risks of frequent use of mobile devices? When it turns into addiction – how to work with it? What is the correlation between smartphones and personal development? And finally – how to turn them into friends who help you in self-improvement? For all of those questions, I’ll try to answer in today’s article.

How often do we use phones?

Here are the key facts from statistics gathered by RescueTime regarding usage of the phone by 11,000 users in 2018:

  • People spend, on average, 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phones.
  • The top 20% of smartphone users have daily screen time in excess of 4.5 hours.
  • People spend more time on their phones during the week rather than on weekends.
  • Users check their phones 58 times a day where 30 check-ins happening during working hours (9am-5pm)
  • Most people spend about 1 minute and 15 seconds each time.
  • 50% of screen time sessions start within 3 minutes of the previous one.

Another study also shows that 69% of us check our phones within 5 minutes of waking up. These and other studies show that phones are an integral part of our lives. You can check your statistics as well – if you are an iPhone user there is a feature called Screen Time that gathers that information. Believe me, you will be surprised with your result.

Why addiction to smartphones is dangerous?

I would argue that this is not a surprise – we are using our phones too much. This is not a problem, I think if we have control over it and we have some benefits of that usage. However, addiction to mobile devices also has the name – Nomophobia (no-mobile-phone phobia) known as “having a fear of not being with your phone“. Also, there is a term FOMO (fear of missing out) on social networking, news, updates, shopping, gambling, and more.

There are many negative effects of using mobile phones too much including:

Effects on youth – researchers have found that there are many direct and indirect negative effects of smartphones on youths. Children may see their friends and value more those who are using the newest version of smartphones. Young people also tend to become depressed because they feel imperfect due to the fact that on the Internet people present themselves as perfect and there are many young stars who kids would like to follow. There is also a danger in terms of problems with building relationships with others and isolating from other people.

Impact on health – various studies have shown that mobile phone usage leads to a change in sleep quality and duration. Lack of sleep results in other medical problems like heart attack, depression, high risk of diabetes, problems with concentration, eyesight, and so on.

Changes in social life – smartphones are also changing our relationships with others. People prefer to write a message to someone instead of having a face-to-face conversation. It causes a lack of social interactions which leads to broken relationships. It also may cause social isolation that breeds emotional problems like anxiety or depression. Quality of meetings with others is also affected if we are checking mobile phones constantly. Another side effect is that it’s easier for us to criticize someone (in social media for example) just for expressing our negative emotions.

Self-esteem – this point is important, especially if we tend to compare ourselves to others. Social media shows “the perfect people”, “the perfect life”, “the luxury life”. This picture makes us sad because we wish to have the same and we compare that with our current situation. That behaviour directly affects our mental health, especially self-esteem.

Information overload – it’s good to be up to date with the newest information. However, reading and watching too much news it’s not good for how we see the world. This is because, in the majority of the cases, information services tend to present only bad events instead of good ones.

How to have control over your smartphone?

If you think that you see in your life the negative effects of using a smartphone is the right time to think about how to take control over your mobile device. Here are the few tips which I try to follow as well.

1. Understand your usage

The first, and most important step is awareness. You need to be aware of how much you use your phone and what is the purpose. Thanks to technology, it is very easy. As I mentioned earlier, the iPhone offers the Screen Time feature, which highlights the most-used apps, time on the device, number of screen activations, and more. If you are an android user there are many free applications available.

2. Deactivate notifications and set usage limits

Notifications are something that disturbs you and at the same time encourage you to use your phone much more often. Turn off them in all of your apps and at the same time remove those which are not necessary. The majority of the applications like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube have features that allow users to gain more control over notifications and set daily usage limits.

3. Create smartphone free zones

One of the ways to disconnect you from your smartphone is to have a place where your mobile device is not allowed to be used. In my case, it is the bedroom and workstation. During my working hours, I leave my phone in a different room or far away from me. When I go to bed I turn my device into flight mode – the helpful trick is also to buy a traditional alarm clock and also don’t bring a smartphone into the bedroom.

4. Set up the meetings with your smartphone

To reduce time spent on your phone you may set appointments in your calendar where you will be allowed to use your smartphone. That time you can use it for responding to messages, emails, or for whatever you wish. That controlled time allows you to take you from constantly thinking about what is going on on the Internet and make you free from the feeling that you are missing something important.

5. Limit your checking

Try to do an experiment. When do you feel that you need to check your phone ask yourself – what is the purpose of that checking? Is it something that I should do right now or I can do that in my next appointment (see point no.4)? What helps me, when I’m at home, and I feel bored – instead of checking my phone I choose to read at least a page of the book. Resisting the urge to check my phone it’s hard at the beginning but every time when you beat that urge you are on a good way to break a bad habit.

Turning your smartphone into self-improvement engine

Smartphones are not bad at all. There are many benefits that they can bring into our lives. We may use them as a powerful tool in personal development – here are my suggestions.

1. Keep apps that will help you in your development.

I mentioned earlier that it is important to delete all unnecessary applications from your phone. You can replace them with those more useful in terms of your personal development. If I had to recommend one, my choice would be Headspace. It’s an app designed to help you in meditation and mindfulness. Another one might be the application that allows you to track your habits – the Habitat App.

2. Manage your work.

My last discovery is the Google Calendar application which is helping me to manage my tasks, meetings, and so on. If anything pops up in my mind I write it on paper and when I have my “meeting with phone” I transfer it to the Google Calendar and set a reminder. Thanks to that process I’m not worried that I forget about something and I have clearer thinking.

3. Write down your thoughts

You can maintain your everyday journal on your smartphone. The majority of mobile devices have built-in notes applications built-in. I use it to write my daily thoughts, anything that worries me, my successes, failures, ideas (this is how I’m collecting ideas for my blog posts very often), goals, and so on. If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, upset or angry is a great way to express your emotions and at the same time try to find the root cause of them.

4. Listen to inspiring audiobooks/podcasts

When you cannot read books, audiobooks and podcasts are very useful. In my example, I spend approximately 3 hours per week and I use this time to listen to podcasts. In August’s recommendations, I wrote about my favorite podcasts. There are many other situations where you can do this – when walking, cleaning your house, cooking, and so on.

5. Smartphone as your private university

Apart from listening to podcasts and audiobooks, there are many other ways that smartphones can help you in developing new skills. Your smartphone can be your private university. You can set it up in such a way (with valuable applications) that no matter what you would like to learn you will be able to find the right information and keep consistency in your learning.

Thank you for reading till the end. If you would like to be informed about new articles and receive information about interesting articles you can sign up for my newsletter.

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