Next time you’re in line at the grocery store or sitting in a restaurant, observe how many people are clicking, scrolling and typing.  They’re captivated by their phones to the exclusion of everything else.

Talented people strategically design smartphones and apps to hijack and hold our attention.  They’re exceptionally good at it, too.  That’s why you can’t resist the lure of your smartphone.

A coalition of technologists called the Center for Humane Technology is looking for ways to educate the public about the dangers of technology addiction.  It isn’t only kids – adults can also fall victim to the rewards in a game or the rush when a post gets lots of likes on Facebook.  We’re all vulnerable.

Here’s the problem:

Phones, apps, and the web are so indispensable to our daily lives—a testament to the benefits they give us—that we’ve become a captive audience. With two billion people plugged into these devices, technology companies have inadvertently enabled a direct channel to manipulate entire societies with unprecedented precision. 

 What began as a race to monetize our attention is now eroding the pillars of our society: mental health, democracy, social relationships, and our children.

Wow.

How can you take control of your phone?  Here are a few simple changes you can make:

  1. Turn off all notifications except from people. That means notifications, banners and badges, except from apps where real people want your attention; e.g. messaging apps like WhatsApp, FB Messenger, Signal, Telegram, We Chat, etc.
  1. Go Grayscale. Colorful icons give our brains shiny rewards every time we unlock.  Set your phone to grayscale to remove those positive reinforcements.  It may help you check your phone less.
  1. Try keeping your home screen to tools only. Limit your first page of apps to just tools – the apps you use for quick in-and-out tasks like maps, camera, calendar, notes, etc.  Move the rest of the apps, especially mindless choices, off the first page and into folders.
  1. Charge your device outside the bedroom. It may require a separate alarm clock, but it will stop you from checking your phone before you even get out of bed.
  1. Go cold turkey and remove social media from your phone. This will force you to check sites from your computer.  (WHAT?! You may have to work up to this one.)

There are apps and extensions that can help you live with less distraction, too.  They do everything from cutting blue light to tracking the amount of time you spend on certain apps.

Could you be unplugged from your phone for 24 hours?  No social media, no texting, no games.  (Ok, maybe a phone call or two so people don’t think you’ve fallen off the face of the earth.)  How would your day be different?

Make sure you’re using technology in a way that benefits you. In business and in life, your focus needs to be on the people and activities that will help you thrive.  Don’t let your smartphone get in the way.

 

If you’d like to know more about how CRU Solutions can help with your business IT, contact us.