For this week’s ‘Vanessa on Assignment’ (click here to listen) I spoke to Dr. Mari Swingle who is the author of the book ‘I-Minds: How Cell Phones, Computers, Gaming, and Social Media Are Changing Our Brains, Our Behaviour, and the Evolution of Our Species’ on what constitutes smartphone addiction. Dr.Swingle told me if you feel anxious and basically unable to function when, for example, you’re at a party and realize you’ve left your phone at home, then you have a problem. At that point she says it’s up to the person to either seek help from a professional like herself on what is driving the dependance or personally start a plan to combat the problem (click here for tips to spending less time on your smartphone).
While I’m a huge supporter of smartphones (come on, internet, a calendar, pedometer, and dating apps to find my future husband all in one!) Dr. Swingle says the constant stimulus a smartphone provides also poses a high danger for developing ADHD and anxiety issues as they make us increasingly distracted and hyperactive as a species. For many people trying to focus on one topic across the table from a friend can become increasingly difficult as our brains have become programmed to always be scanning for that next click bait headline or trending hashtag on Twitter. There’s also the issue of insomnia. If you’re like me, I frequently get lost in the Youtube vortex late at night watching dumb video after dumb video without even noticing the click strike 1am (Side note, check out this hilarious Youtube video that had me giggling at 11pm last night when I should’ve been sleeping)
The good news is Dr.Swingle says most people can spend an hour a day on their smartphones without any general health risk (woo woo! A whole hour ha!) Anything past that really depends on the person. What’s really cool is you can track your family’s digital hours by using the iPhone app ‘Moment’ or ‘QualityTime’ for Android users.
I challenge you to try and cut your smartphone consumption in half this weekend (if you’re a real addict even 1/4th is a good first step). See if you notice any difference in your mental outlook or physical energy as the day goes on. My personal goal as of tonight is to put down the screen and read an actual book before bed. Yes, one of these.
- Vanessa xox