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How to Step Back from Your Smartphone

Our smartphones are pretty amazing tools. We can use them to help manage our money, check our health, and keep us connected to news, videos, and the Internet anywhere we go. But could they be too much of a good thing?

Maybe you’ve been “phubbed”–phone snubbed–by a friend or family member. Maybe you’ve opened your phone “just to check” and looked up twenty minutes later, wondering where the time went. Maybe you’ve almost been hit by a texting driver. Maybe you’ve been that driver!

But the downside of smartphones might go even deeper than these antisocial and dangerous behaviors. Studies show that Americans spend an average of close to 3 ½ hours a day on their smartphones. We touch them almost 2600 times a day! This frequent phone-grabbing can lead to semi-addictive behavior and even serious injuries.

We want to control our phones, but too much of the time, they control us.

This doesn’t mean we have to give up our smartphones. But it’s probably healthy for us if we can find ways to spend less time on them. That’s the idea behind science writer Catherine Price’s book How to Break Up with Your Phone. Here’s a sampling of some of her tips for a healthier relationship with your smartphone:

Remove Temptations Price recommends removing the parts of our phones that make it easier to get sucked in. She deleted her social media apps (she used her browser instead) and removed all notifications except phone calls.

Place Matters Do you wake up and reach for your phone first thing in the morning? Where we put our phone matters. Get an alarm clock and leave your phone off the nightstand. Avoid leaving it on the table, especially during meals. Try putting it in a bag rather than your pocket.

Leave It Behind Go for a walk around your block without your phone. Bored on the bus? Bring a book instead. After some discomfort, the cravings you will feel for your phone will go away.

Use Technology There are several apps that have been designed to help users monitor screen time. Some of them were designed by the very people who helped make your phone so addictive in the first place!

Spend some time thinking today about your smartphone use. If you want to, you can step back from your smartphone and step back into the world around you!