Let’s Talk About Mobile Addiction, Harmful Apps and How You Can Reduce Your Addiction
One topic which would never run out of arguments in a modern-day debate is whether “Mobile use is a boon or bane.”
We’d have an ever-enthusiastic youth on one end supporting the pros of smartphone usage with hearts afire, and a little skeptic other side.
Undoubtedly, mobiles are excellent tools to get things done, but unfortunately, the temptation to waste time and spend hours on non-essential things is ruining many lives.
Moreover, access to cheap data from Telecom operators is driving the digital revolution in India/other countries but at the same time, it is alarmingly harmful for many users who find it difficult to control their urges.
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If you spend time taking up that course on Udemy or watch a free tutorial to configure Nginx on youtube, you are doing great. But if you binging TikTok Videos for hours every day, it is not helping you get ahead in life.
The biggest contributors to mobile addiction are excessive gaming, watching videos and use of social media.
Nomophobia and Mobile Addiction is a Real Curse
A lot of us are suffering from Nomophobia (a term coined by YouGov, it means fear of not able to access our phone).
You can check out these 30 Questions published by the International Journal of Applied Engineering and Research to know if you have mobile addiction.
It is becoming an OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) for many of us to check our phone multiple times every hour.
Nomophobia is causing havoc, a study by News18 says” 150 Times a Day: Study Shows Indian Students’ Alarming Smartphone Addiction”.
According to the study, an alarming, 63% of the students use their phones for 4-7 hours daily. It is not just the students or young people who are addicted to mobiles.
People from all age groups have found their poison, and are hooked.
Use an App like Google’s own Well Being that tells you how many time you are opening the phone and which apps you are spending the most time on.
Everyone has a different poison, for some of you it is PUBG or TikTok, others are hooked to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Mobile addiction in Toddlers and Young Kids
Mobile addiction is a real disease of the modern world and even there are detox centers opening in India. The first Mobile Detox center has opened in Punjab Amritsar, reports India Today.
“Parents handover their mobile phones to small childlren so that they let them work. This becomes an addiction later which results in bad and irritating behaviour. There is no medicine to get rid of the mobile phones but a restricted use or no use can improve one’s behaviour. The parents can play a big role in the digital detox of their children,” Dr Jagdeep Pal said.
Most parents are using mobiles as a quick fix to make their kids busy, often to make them eat food or stop them from disturbing.
Toddlers as young as 9 months are getting used to mobiles.
“My daughter is nine months old. I started showing her the mobile phone. Now she starts crying when I take my phone back from her. I am worried about her as the mobile phone has changed her behaviour,” Paramjit Kaur, the mother of the child, said.
This behavior, increases with age and I have seen 4 years old hooked to PUBG, Youtube and TikTok for hours, and they will cry unceasingly when the phone is not given to them.
School/college kids are uninterested in reading books to learn new things, they want it easy, and digital.
It is time we make sure we limit the screen time of kids to improve their mental and physical health.
But let’s first have a look at some of the most addicting apps, that are designed to ensure that you are hooked to the digital cocaine.
Social Media Addiction
That would say that the youth has taken the whole social networking platform to a new level by compromising on the privacy & confidentiality that one enjoyed before this entire ‘Social media Frenzy’ took over.
Where in a way social media has been elemental in maintaining old bonds and building new ones and has made communicating with people across the globe a cakewalk, the other gloomy side is not avoidable where the youth is so obsessed with it that they have almost forgotten a world apart from this virtual one.
What starts with just another way to overcome boredom turns into this gripping vice that more often than not hampers our productivity. But Does everyone want to be really productive? Not sure about you but sometimes I feel could have spent the last one hour better, which just wasted on spying harmless people on Facebook. Checking profiles and peeking into their mind and life.
Let’s have a look at a few of these monsters disguised as applications or as we call it “Apps” through our binoculars…
I am not saying you need to uninstall any of these Apps, I am just giving an account of addiction which people may fall to because of these. Good or Bad, I am not a judge, you need to decide for yourself.
What earlier used to be just another greeting from a friend across has changed our way of looking at texting and the art of messaging drastically. Give us a smartphone without this application in it and trust us you’ll have us all tears. I mean what words could define a person who is so fortunate to have a life beyond ‘pings’ on WhatsApp!!
One of the milestones in the journey of smartphone apps, WhatsApp came into our lives as a faster and more transparent channel for communication but has been totally misconstrued and probably the most misused application of this time. Where sharing pics, contacts and importantly, videos was a time consuming and a rather technical process once was simplified to a more basic than elementary level.
WhatsApp – How much is too much!!!
With regular updates on the app like the providers are making it more irresistible for smartphone users. From double ticks to blue ticks
Whatsapp has taken the transparency criteria in communication to a new level. This app engulfs our productivity to such an extent that we’ve almost forgotten that it’s a communication app. It is not a right to barge into the private space of someone, not so interested in getting good morning greetings so often.
With the feature of group messaging and the number of conversations piling up on it, battery life has become a rather looked at feature in the specs of any newly launched smartphone.
With people building up conversations without a lead or a halt, meaningful conversations have become far left behind concept. Where once people would be seen reading newspapers, novels, comics or even listening to some leisure music at a café, local trains or even awaiting a bus at the bus stop. Now people are seen going through the display pictures and status of the contacts if not busy texting them.
Come on people… get a life!!!
Remember those lovely days when pictures reminded us of the moments lived, capturing them forever in a still shot???
Where cameras came out only for those special occasions, you meant to frame for years to come. Few but special, weren’t they? Hold it!! Are you talking about occasions for capturing a moment?
Who needs them when you have a high-resolution camera in your beloved smartphone!! With that every day is an occasion and every minute a moment, right?
Those stunning poses at a regular mall or a protruding pout in a selfie at…hmmm…. almost everywhere, we capture every moment round the clock!! But hasn’t this overdose of clicking and posting pics made moments more of a show-off on social media than those candid moments lived??
People concentrate more on posing well for a pic or a selfie than going with the flow of the moment and loving every bit of it. In this competition of “who gets more likes on a pic” the crowd has forgotten to like a moment personally than to get likes on it virtually.
Instagram has taken the fever of click-o-mania to another level by offering so many options to edit your clicks in endless ways. Where clicking a pic takes a quarter of an hour, the other three quarters are unknowingly submitted to editing them on the app.
With the young bunch posting pics at the rate of about at least one per day, aesthetics is soon going to a part of the fantasy. We appreciate having a virtual platform for storing your memories, but aren’t we forgetting to create memories in the craze to capture them? We often forget the long back taught lesson.. too much is too bad!!!
PUBG/ Fortnite/ Asphalt 9
We know this could be offending to all the game lovers who think each game is different and deserves a separate genre.
Well, we respect your attachment to the game, but we’re just keeping our basics that all of them are just meant for recreation and not an accomplishment one seeks to achieve.
A major part of the youth seems to be forgetting this and taking the whole gaming trend a little too seriously.
The PUBG addiction is real and there have been serious implications for many users who play the game almost all day and night.
Some of the players are missing on sleep, ditching friends and family even work and important things in life to play the game.
Too much of mobile gaming can not only ruin your physical but mental health.
When you do this to Your Bike, You know you are addicted:
— shakir (@RehmanShakir12) August 8, 2019
You can play the game and maybe kill 50 people today, but that is not an achievement. Play games for recreation and fun, don’t get involved and take it on your ego, that you have to beat them all.
It is not going to happen, there will be someone more crazy practicing day and night.
I(Kanuj – co-Author) have been on that slippery slope of Pro gaming, playing games all night and it doesn’t lead you anywhere. In fact, you will become a bigger loser in real life than you already are.
If you want to win in real life, keep it in control or just quit.
Trust us guys, the real world might not be so perfect, but yes, it’s a lot more interesting than the virtual ones.
Get out of your virtual world for a while, breathe into the fresh air, look at people around you and you’ll know what we’re talking about. Nah… we’ll accept the thanks later!!
While gaming is a great stress buster and is even known to improve your I.Q to some extent. Overdoing it can have serious repercussions like missing out on frivolous things like “Living”.
Shooting other players, bursting grenades and racing cars are all fun unless you make it a way of life and make it a priority on your ‘to-do’ list.
Remember, ‘all play n no work makes Jack a dull boy.’
Don’t worry, we know what we’re writing, and it’s not an overlooked shuffling of words.
We’re not getting into the naming games here. Neither are we targeting any particular app in particular. We’re just commenting on how do these screen shops hamper our ‘not much of calorie-burning ‘walk’ n strolls that we indulged in whenever we went shopping!!
Window shopping has a new competitor – Online shopping. Admit it guys, more often than not we just end up scrolling through products than buying them. Out of every 10 times, one runs through the shopping app, only once does he end up actually buying a product.
And what do we tell about our lovely ladies who love comparing prices- whether it’s a flea market or online retail!! We’re not against the convenience that we all are subjected to by these on hand shops, but the kind of useless product scrolling people end up indulging into through these apps.
The more range and variety an app offers, the more we love playing around it. And at the end, while deciding to buy something, we either get confused among the huge range or the fit; resulting in us ending up in the nearby retail outlet….Uffff!!!
You have all our apologies before we start on this one. But come on folks, we all know that FB is the ‘BAAP’ of all apps that are the culprits in bringing down our productivity. It’s like all the above apps summarized into one single book- the “Facebook.”
You name the thing, and you have it on FB. From chatting on messenger, shopping on related pages to playing games, FB has it all. We all have that irritating friend on our list who keeps sending us game requests or an invite to like pages that are of no particular interest to us.
There can never be enough arguments against how useful FB as a social app has. There are people who’ve met long lost friends and couldn’t have done so without this miracle app. Then there are incidents of people finding lost belongings and dear ones through posts going viral across the internet through FB.
A lot of people receive acknowledgment and appreciation for their skills through various posts & pages on FB. The list of pros goes on and on. But these are not what we’re talking about.
We’re talking about the other lot who have never thought of FB as more than a platform for posting self-obsessed pictures and a ‘push media’ to let the whole world know about their hourly feeling updates. Don’t believe us?? Check for yourself the next time you have a lot of non-productive time.
6. TikTok / Youtube
What’s the harm in watching Tiktok, another form of digital cocaine.
You open the App and you know that you are going to watch it for 10 minutes and then you have to get back to the lesson you have a test tomorrow morning.
Whoever invented the infinite scroll on mobiles was a jerk. Apps like Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok let us scroll infinitely and we don’t have an idea after some time why we were using that App.
You watch some videos, maybe they were all crap and you want to watch something good but you are not able to find that good. You keep watching.
All of this seems good and help you forget about the unpleasing test you have to take tomorrow.
A report by HT, Mint has a quote from Dr. Jayant Mahadeven which says instant gratification is one of the leading cause of rising of such apps.
“There are established vulnerability patterns or risk factors,” said Dr Jayant Mahadevan, from National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, “Deficit in social skills, difficulty in conversing and recognizing emotions, seeking instant gratification through social media. Individuals undergoing a difficult emotion of any kind are often seen spending more time on such apps.”
It is not only the creators who get instant gratification, viewers who comment and get likes and mentions are also sucked in to get the instant gratification of saying something cool.
Youtube is an issue for many, who even don’t realize it is an issue
Youtube algorithm is designed to ensure that people don’t leave the platform by just watching one video. It keeps recommending your content, that you are most likely to watch.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence is working hard to ensure that you don’t put down your phone.
7. Netflix/ Amazon Prime/ Hotstar and other Streaming Services
Netflix CEO, Mr. Reed Hastings once said: “sleep is our biggest competitor.”
Sleep is my greatest enemy.
— Netflix US (@netflix) April 17, 2017
Sleep is our best friend. It helps our body recover, make us productive and healthy.
Let me admit that I have watched so many TV series in the past, that I am even ashamed of telling you. But you get the idea, just to name a few that I binge-watched like a drugged person were – GOT, Breaking Bad, Prison Break, Suits, Lost, Sherlock Holmes, Black Mirror, Stranger things, Sopranos, Narcos, The Punisher, Lucifer, and God knows whatnot.
Problem is not watching these, they are good content. If I watch maybe half an hour or one hour in a day. But that’s not happening.
I was compromising sleep to watch them.
If you have not slept enough, the next day in office, it is difficult to even do the basic things you want to finish.
Forget about doing something creative.
Are these Apps Really Bad?
We’re nobody to raise a finger on these apps, we are a distributary of this massive river. And also take the holy bath, when time permits, after all, life will not be fun without these.
All we want to convey is that the use of these apps should be limited to the purpose they’re meant for.
Think out of the ‘Smartphone, ’ and it’ll not be challenging to keep up with the pace of life, stay fit & healthy and yes, enjoy a state called “peace of mind”!!!
In fact, I was using my phone for over 5 hours, almost daily before I planned to cut down the usage drastically and focus on what matters.
For me, it is blogging, health and family.
That is what I do now.
So, let me share with you 7 Things that I did to reduce my mobile addiction and improve my productivity.
7 Real-Life Tips to Reduce Your Mobile Addiction
1. Measure: What is Keeping you busy
Use the Digital Well Being app on Android, Screen Time on iOS to understand your mobile usage pattern.
The Digital Well Being will tell you which apps you are using too much.
Check pattern for a couple of days to be sure what are the apps you are wasting the most time.
If you are using mobile for more than 2 hours a day on unproductive Apps. It is a problem.
Remove the most used App.
2. Switch To Alternate Mediums
If it is important for you to access the app, open it in a browser. In fact, I removed all social apps from my mobile.
Now, whenever I feel like accessing an app, I open it in the chrome browser on mobile.
It has reduced my frequency and time of usage on these apps.
Also, I mostly access social Apps like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter on the laptop. shut the tab once I have shared my blog posts or read some of the updates.
Stop wasting time on social media. It is not going to help.
Besides, stop looking for instant gratification and the dose of dopamine to get a high when someone like your cool comment.
Doing real work is essential, and will get you ahead in life. Social Media won’t.
You should limit usage and be mindful.
3. Streaming Apps: Curing addiction to Netflix and Amazon Prime and so on….
Aforementioned, I have been an addict to these. Binge Watching serials every night.
I always thought I will watch one episode, but the serial endings are always left at peak climax. We are coerced to watch the next one.
Due to lack of sleep, I was working like a Zombie on most days. Barely, pulling through the day.
Netflix has damn good content! It is too tempting for me to resist!
So, I canceled my Netflix subscription. There was no way after paying so much to them, and then not using the service.
I know that was a bit extreme, but it works.
What about other streaming services?
I have made a strict rule that I watch them only on weekends. I even unplug the firestick so my kids only have access to it on weekends.
4. Kill the Distractions
Big one. turn off all notifications on your phone. Yup! All of them.
When you pick up your phone to check that Facebook or What’s App notification, you may end up wasting an hour on useless things.
It is essential to get rid of all notifications, on your mobile.
There is nothing so urgent that it can’t wait. When you access your phone, you can read What’s app messages and reply.
If something is urgent people will call or message you.
5. Gaming / TikTok Addiction
TikTok needs to be removed. It is cancer. Not useful in any possible way, I can think of. Maybe for some users, it can be relaxing but it is not something, I would like my kids to watch and learn from.
Youtube is far better and has better control over the content, plus you can learn something useful.
You can remove PUBG also. Reinstall once you have build control and resilience if you want to play games on your phone.
Make sure you don’t play more than an hour in a day. No exceptions.
I have been on that slippery slope with addiction to PC gaming when I was young. It is nearly same with the mobiles.
If you don’t play for some days and find something else to do, you will not miss it.
5. Nomophobia – The Fear of Missing Out
Nomophobia You are not missing much. Don’t fret over it too much.
For me, being a Tech writer I need to know what is happening. What is the next big news, I should write about?
It creates an urge to scan Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and other 10 websites ceaselessly.
Probably, you also have a fear of not missing out, you want to know about everything that is happening?
This was not helping me, even if my livelihood depends on information.
I have changed the way I find and access information on the internet.
Rather than spending 90% of my time reading random comments on Twitter.
Now, I visit very specific websites in Tech and have unfollowed majority of people on Twitter and other social media sites who were not relevant to my work.
Now, I am spending 70% time on writing and 30% time on reading. Voila! That’s a boost in daily productivity.
Let me tell you a secret, I was writing less than 1000 words a day earlier.
After this digital detox, now I write over 2000 words.
Stop wasting time on Twitter, FaceBook to catch that viral news. Unfollow, pages, groups, and people who are uploading useless content.
Bookmark best sites, and read articles that help you get the right perspective.
6. Stay Disconnected
You don’t need to be connected all the time. You are not so important. Neither am I.
Technology is our slave we are not. Turn off stop checking emails no one is coming after you. Stop worrying about your boss and
Learn the difference between Urgent and Important. Is there a difference? Yes!
Most people including me have no idea, about what is urgent or important.
I am still working on this, but I want to share with you the technique that 34th American President, Dwight D. Eisenhower used to get things done.
What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower.
I Love the Eisen Hower Box, it is one of the most amazing techniques I have learned in the last 1 year.
You, Need to learn it too.
Urgent – Something that needs your immediate attention, it can be important or not important.
Important – Tasks which have long term impact on you and your life.
I have added some of the examples below to the Eisen Hover Box, which is relevant to me.
Download Eisen Hover Box PPT (Click Here), and create it for yourself. You will know what is important, urgent and not so important and not urgent.
It will help you prioritize urgent and important tasks.
To say it in the words of Peter Drucker: There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.
7. Feed Right Things to Your Devil Mind
An empty mind is a devil’s home.
If your mind is empty and you don’t have anything to do. It is likely that your mind will drift towards social media, games or whatever it finds easy to waste time on.
Get into other activities. Books, photography, walking, cycling, coding, cooking, sports, yoga.
You need to fix one hour for the activity you decide, no matter what.
If you plan to go for a walk in the evening at 7:00 pm, you need to go daily without fail.
Don’t push your self in the beginning, take it easy. A 15-20 minute walk or workout is enough.
The key to success is not how much you walk on day 1, but for how many days you can go for a walk without fail.
It will take 3-4 weeks to develop a good habit. So be persistent.
Develop one good habit. That’s our goal.
What if All of the above fails?
Here is what you need to do, some people have done it, and there life has changed.
If everything fails, buy a Nokia 3310 (a simple feature phone) and keep your smartphone locked in a drawer.
One of my friends, he is an IITian, a professor at a prestigious institute, did this last year and is still using a feature phone.
Unbelievably, he doesn’t use a smartphone in 2019, and he tells me, he has time for everything.
He has a remarkable collection of books, which he reads every day. Also, spends time with family and is doing deep research in theoretical physics.
So, that’s all I have to tell you.
Lastly, bookmark this article mail it to yourself, read it when you are down.
Share your thoughts Or in comments.
Co-Author – Krutika Shetty.