How To Break Your Social Media/Cell Phone Addiction

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This topic was suggested by a friend after a call for topics on my journey of 30 blog posts in 30 days. Keep in mind I am not a behavioral psychologist and all of the opinions and suggestions are things I’ve done myself and these may or may not work for you. Translation: take this with a grain of salt.

I would like to address the term addiction. Perhaps for the sake of this post, we’ll call it a dependency. I’ve seen what addiction can do and believe me Social Media and Cell Phone usage doesn’t come close to the damageof drugs, alcohol, gambling addiction, etc.

Now that we’ve got that squared away, when we talk about a dependency it’s related to a behavior or a habit that has been created over time (this is when you click on this link and pick yourself up a copy of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business). Each habit begins with a cue or a signal followed by the behavior and the assumed reward.  In order to nip the behavior, we have to start with the cue.

Questions to Ask Yourself

1)      What makes you look at your phone?

2)      What triggers you to engage on social media?

3)      What feels normal or manageable?

4)      What feels out of control and crosses boundaries?

From what I’ve observed, most cell phone and social media use acts as a distraction or a time fill. You could be waiting in line, sitting in a meeting, “watching” little Jimmy’s baseball game. You’re physically there, but everything else is checked out making you about 15% effective where you are. (If you drive and do this, stop immediately.)

There is an expectation to be on call, but when you’re actually fully engaged in your life, your time is much more valuable and valued by others. You won’t waste 3 hours straight commenting on cat videos or reading opinion pieces. You’ll be out living in the world.

That’s not to say to do away with Social Media and smart phones, but rather to create a healthy relationship where your primary relationships (family, friends and your colleagues) are given fully focused time first. When those relationship needs are met, you will feel more engaged to check in, post and comment in your allotted time and then shut it down.

Goal: Create a Healthy Relationship with Social Media

How Do You Do That?

1)    Identify the Trigger (see above)

2)    After you’ve identified the trigger or cue, you can take several approaches:

a.     Remove the trigger – i.e. Delete Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter App from your phone. You’ll have time throughout the day to check it on your computer or during your allotted hours. In this scenario, put the App in a sub-folder or put it on the last page of your Apps.

b.     Reduce the trigger – Turn off the alerts or notifications (especially the sounds) for all of the guilty Apps including your email and text messages. At a minimum, this should be on vibrate.

c.     Schedule time for Social Media or email on your phone.

3)    Create household rules and stick to them – i.e. meal time is phone free or cell phone use only between 7 and 9pm. It may seem strict, but you asked for it. Remember?

4)    Instead of commenting on a post, call the friend or family member and have a real conversation.

5)    Don’t sleep next to your phone or have your phone in your bedroom. If it’s an emergency, they will call and you will hear it.


Try them out and let me know how it goes after 30 days!