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Smartphone addiction occurs when you spend more time on social media or playing on the phone than you interact with real people or you can’t avoid repeatedly checking text messages, emails or apps, even when it negatively affects your life. Although a smartphone, tablet or computer can be a productive tool, the compulsive use of these devices can interfere with work, school and relationships.

Smartphone addiction, also known as “nomophobia” (fear of not having a cell phone), is usually caused by an Internet overuse problem or an Internet addiction disorder. After all, it is rarely the phone or the tablet that creates the restriction, but the games, applications and online worlds to which it connects us.

Online restrictions, such as gambling, gambling, stock trading, online shopping, or auction auctions, can often lead to financial and employment problems. While gambling addiction has been a well-documented problem for years, the availability of games on the Internet has made games much more accessible. Forced stock trading or online shopping can be equally damaging financially and socially. Online shopping addicts can wake up at odd times to go online during the last few minutes of an auction. You can buy things you don’t need and you can’t afford to make the winning bid.

Causes and effects of smartphone and Internet addiction

While you may experience impulse control issues on a laptop or desktop computer, the size and convenience of smartphones and tablets allows us to take them almost anywhere and meet our restrictions around the clock. In fact, most of us are rarely more than five feet from our smartphones. Like the use of drugs and alcohol, they can trigger the release of chemical dopamine from the brain and change your mood. You can also quickly develop a tolerance so that more and more time is needed on these screens to obtain the same pleasant reward.

Heavy smartphone use can often be symptomatic of other underlying problems, such as stress, anxiety, depression or loneliness. At the same time, it can also make these problems worse. If you use your smartphone as a “security blanket” to relieve feelings of anxiety, loneliness or discomfort in social situations, for example, you will only be able to isolate yourself from the people around you. Looking at your phone will prevent you from interacting face to face, which can help you connect significantly with other people, relieve anxiety and improve your mood. In other words, the medicine you choose for your anxiety (interacting with your smartphone) actually worsens your anxiety.

Dependence on a smartphone or the Internet can also harm your life by:

  • Greater loneliness and depression.
  • Feed the anxiety.
  • Increased stress.
  • Worsen attention deficit
  • Decrease your ability to concentrate and deep or creative thinking
  • Disturb your dream
  • Encourage self-absorption

Warning signs of excessive smartphone or Internet use include:

  • Difficulty performing tasks at work or at home.
  • Isolation from family and friends.
  • Hide smartphone usage
  • Having a “fear of getting lost” (or FOMO)

Self-help tips for smartphone addicts

You can take several steps to control your smartphone and Internet usage. Although you can start many of these steps yourself, it is difficult to overcome addiction on your own, especially when temptation is always at hand. It can be very easy to revert to old usage patterns. Seek outside support, whether from family, friends or a professional therapist.

To help identify your problems, keep track of when and how much you use your smartphone for non-professional or non-essential activities. There are specific apps that can help you, allowing you to keep track of the time spent on your phone. Are there times of the day when you use the phone more? Are there any other things you could do? The more you understand how to use your smartphone, the easier it will be to limit your habits and regain control of your time.

Change the use of your smartphone, step by step

For most people, controlling your smartphone and using the Internet does not mean stopping smoking. Instead, think of it as if you were on a diet. Just as you still need to eat, you will probably need to use your phone to go to work, school or to keep in touch with friends. Your goal should be to reduce to healthier usage levels.

Set goals when you can use your smartphone. For example, you can schedule to use certain times of the day or reward yourself with a certain time on the phone after completing a task or completing a task, for example.

Hang up the phone at certain times of the day, such as when you drive, to a meeting, to the gym, when you have dinner or play with your kids. Do not take the phone with you to the bathroom.

Do not take your phone or tablet to bed. The blue light from the screens can interrupt your sleep if used within two hours of bedtime. Unplug the devices and leave them in another room overnight to charge them. Instead of reading e-books on your phone or tablet at night, grab a book. Not only do you sleep better, but research shows that you will also remember more than you read.

Replace your smartphone with healthier activities. If you are bored and alone, resisting the need to use your smartphone can be very difficult. Plan other ways to spend your time, such as meditating, reading a book, or talking in person with friends.

Play the “cell phone” game. Spending time with other smartphone addicts? Play the “cell phone” game. When having lunch, dinner or drinking together, ask everyone to put their smartphone on the table. Even when the phones ring, no one can answer. If someone can’t resist checking the phone, they should cash the check for everyone.

Remove social media applications from your phone so that you can view only Facebook, Twitter and others on your computer. And remember: what you see of others on social media rarely accurately reflects their lives: people exaggerate the positive aspects of their lives, ignoring the doubts and disappointments that we all know. Spending less time comparing yourself to these stylized portraits can help you improve your mood and self-esteem.

Limit controls. If you compulsively check your phone every few minutes, limit it to once every 15 minutes. Then, once every 30 minutes, then once an hour. If you need help, some applications may be automatically limited when you can access your phone.

Reduce your fear of getting lost. Accept that by limiting the use of your smartphone, you risk losing some invitations, the latest news or new gossip. There is so much information available on the Internet that it is almost impossible to know everything anyway. Accepting this can be liberating and help end technology addiction.

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