17 Apr Why your smartphone isn’t so smart for your well-being
Do you love your smart phone?
Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, oh my! In today’s digital age there are thousands of apps to keep us connected around the world on our smart phone, working after-hours, and entertained day and night. But is this such a good thing?
You probably have a few favourites that you scroll through every so often. Facebook, Gmail Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Whatsapp… And by the time you’ve finished checking your Whatsapp messages, it’s time to head back to Facebook to check in again because the digital world is constantly updating.
This is what’s known as a ‘ludic loop’ – a phenomenon that makes you do something over and over again – and one of the main reasons Smartphones and apps are so addictive. We can spend hours looping through these apps feeling like we’re connecting with others, when in fact, we’re actually just staring into a tiny box.
Research tells us that increased social media use has been linked with increased loneliness and depressive symptoms1. Also, smartphones and technology use can really get in the way of your sleep (which can impact your mood and energy levels), as well as negatively impact your emotional and sexual intimacy with your partner if you’re both settling into bed cuddling your phones, and not each other. So, all that app refreshing might not be refreshing after all.
What are some alternatives?
- Create healthy boundaries around your phone – set a time limit after work when you’re allowed to use it and after that, put it out of sight, face down, or pick a day or two when you can be phone-free and actually leave it behind for the day
- Try some hands-on games! Who says you can only play Candy Crush or Angry Birds on your phone? Pick up a few puzzles or click here for a list of solo board games if you’re by yourself and craving some fun, or dust off those old Monopoly, Chess, or Checkers boards and have a 2+ person party
- Talk to someone. Get out there, flex those vocal cords, and have a bit of a chin wag with your partner, child, parent, sibling, friend, even your dog
- Try out a few tactile hobbies like painting, drawing, clay-throwing, or pick up a few mindfulness-based colouring books (available at Kmart, Target, Readings, and other books stores) – anything to keep those antsy thumbs away from texting
Remember, it’s ok to want to connect with people around the world, have an ambitious work ethic, and giggle at the latest cat video. Just keep it all in perspective and try to refresh your mental well-being and relationship health first.
By: Dr. Elizabeth Landau
1 Kim, J., LaRose, R., & Peng, W. (2009). Loneliness as the cause and the effect of problematic Internet use: The relationship between Internet use and psychological well-being. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(4), 451-455.