Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain

Excerpt from this article:

I’ve been a heavy phone user for my entire adult life. But sometime last year, I crossed the invisible line into problem territory. My symptoms were all the typical ones: I found myself incapable of reading books, watching full-length movies or having long uninterrupted conversations. Social media made me angry and anxious, and even the digital spaces I once found soothing (group texts, podcasts, YouTube k-holes) weren’t helping. I tried various tricks to curb my usage, like deleting Twitter every weekend, turning my screen grayscale and installing app-blockers. But I always relapsed.

Eventually, in late December, I decided that enough was enough. I called Catherine Price, a science journalist and the author of “How to Break Up With Your Phone,” a 30-day guide to eliminating bad phone habits. And I begged her for help.

…Instead, her program focuses on addressing the root causes of phone addiction, including the emotional triggers that cause you to reach for your phone in the first place. The point isn’t to get you off the internet, or even off social media — you’re still allowed to use Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms on a desktop or laptop, and there’s no hard-and-fast time limit. It’s simply about unhooking your brain from the harmful routines it has adopted around this particular device, and hooking it to better things.

…For the rest of the week, I became acutely aware of the bizarre phone habits I’d developed. I noticed that I reach for my phone every time I brush my teeth or step outside the front door of my apartment building, and that, for some pathological reason, I always check my email during the three-second window between when I insert my credit card into a chip reader at a store and when the card is accepted.

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Asia’s smartphone addiction

Emoji tattoo

Excerpt from this article:

Nomophobia – or no mobile phone phobia – the onset of severe anxiety on losing access to your smartphone has been talked about for years. But in Asia, the birthplace of the selfie stick and the emoji, psychologists say smartphone addiction is fast on the rise and the addicts are getting younger.

A recent study surveyed almost 1,000 students in South Korea, where 72% of children own a smartphone by the age of 11 or 12 and spend on average 5.4 hours a day on them – as a result about 25% of children were considered addicted to smartphones. The study, to be published in 2016 found that stress was an important indicator of your likelihood to get addicted.

Smartphones are central to many societies but they have been integrated into Asian cultures in many ways: there is the obligatory “food porn” photograph at the beginning of any meal; in Japan it is an entire subculture with its own name – keitai culture.

In South Korea, 19-year-old student Emma Yoon (not her real name) has been undergoing treatment for nomophobia since April 2013. “My phone became my world. It became an extension of me. My heart would race and my palms grew sweaty if I thought I lost my phone. So I never went anywhere without it.”

This Man Uses Twitter To Augment His Damaged Memory

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…Dixon has relied heavily on his smartphone to augment the part of his brain that is no longer functioning properly. He uses Twitter throughout the day to make note of the details he isn’t likely to remember tomorrow: What he was reading about, what kind of coffee he ordered, who he spoke to. Even the details of his sex life, which he tweets about in Korean to avoid embarrassing over-the-shoulder moments. All of this goes into his private Twitter account, which he can later refer to, search, and analyze.