The 3 Steps I Took to Reduce my Mobile Dependence

I read an article the other day about a boy who was addicted to taking selfies and another showing that we spend 23 days out of the year on our phones.

I've witnessed several of my friends take their phones out of their pockets, unlock them, swipe through each of their social applications (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat primarily) and then lock their phone only to repeat the process ten minutes later. The crazy part... there was no notifications or incoming messages prompting them to do so. They just opened, swiped, clicked, locked. Finding nothing new, they waited ten more minutes before checking again, hoping there might be something there to give them the dopamine hit they crave.

Here are a few symptoms of a dopamine addiction to technology:

-short attention spans
-easily distracted
-usage of phone while with other people
-checking your phone is the last thing you do before going to sleep

Sound familiar?

Mobile addiction is real, scary and - as with any addiction - hard to see coming until it's too late. I wouldn't consider myself an addict (that's what they all say, right?) but to be sure, I began taking precautions. Here are the three steps that I took to help me navigate away from my mobile screen and back to reality.


1. Eliminate

I deleted all but one social app - Twitter. I feel like anyone removing a major facet of their life, cold turkey, would feel the loss a little to painful which would drive them back into the arms of the bad habit. Since Twitter is my primary social outlet, I decided I would keep it (it honestly felt good to not feel obligated to check Facebook in that crappy app).

2. Silence

I went to my settings and turned off the notifications to every app on my phone except for text, call and facetime. If I want to check Twitter, I'll check Twitter on my own time. I don't want the ping of a push notification firing off dopamine hits every time something happens on social media. That's a quick way to reinforce an addiction.

3. Measure

Peter Drucker, the famous advertising guru, once stated, "What gets measured gets managed." I decided to do a little recon on my mobile usage habits, using the app, Moment, to track it. On average, Americans spend between 1 and 2 hours each day looking at their smartphones, checking it upwards of 150 times. After using the app for three days my current usage times are:

Day 1: 36 minutes, 67 pickups
Day 2: 28 minutes, 35 pickups
Day 3: 48 minutes, 84 pickups
Day 4: 32 minutes, 94 pickups

I'm aware that the knowledge that my phone usage was being tracked may have made me more self-conscious about it and thus prompted me to reduce my usage. If this is the case, then fantastic. If this isn't the case and I actually only use my phone, on average, 36 minutes per day then that's also a good thing. Either way, I feel like I'm in an okay place, as far as usage goes.

If you're finding yourself checking your phone often through the day - especially if you check it with no real purpose - then I would highly suggest that you take action toward curbing the habit. Though technology is playing an increasingly larger part in our world, I believe that we should be proactive in finding ways to cut ties with the screen where possible. 

Jacob Jolibois is the founder of The Archer's Guild. He has a habit of starting a large number of projects and is oddly enthusiastic about Disney. Ultimately, he's hoping to rid the world of mediocrity, lots of people at a time (one is too slow). Recently, he backpacked across 11 countries with Micah Webber.