000-017   000-080   000-089   000-104   000-105   000-106   070-461   100-101   100-105  , 100-105  , 101   101-400   102-400   1V0-601   1Y0-201   1Z0-051   1Z0-060   1Z0-061   1Z0-144   1z0-434   1Z0-803   1Z0-804   1z0-808   200-101   200-120   200-125  , 200-125  , 200-310   200-355   210-060   210-065   210-260   220-801   220-802   220-901   220-902   2V0-620   2V0-621   2V0-621D   300-070   300-075   300-101   300-115   300-135   3002   300-206   300-208   300-209   300-320   350-001   350-018   350-029   350-030   350-050   350-060   350-080   352-001   400-051   400-101   400-201   500-260   640-692   640-911   640-916   642-732   642-999   700-501   70-177   70-178   70-243   70-246   70-270   70-346   70-347   70-410   70-411   70-412   70-413   70-417   70-461   70-462   70-463   70-480   70-483   70-486   70-487   70-488   70-532   70-533   70-534   70-980   74-678   810-403   9A0-385   9L0-012   9L0-066   ADM-201   AWS-SYSOPS   C_TFIN52_66   c2010-652   c2010-657   CAP   CAS-002   CCA-500   CISM   CISSP   CRISC   EX200   EX300   HP0-S42   ICBB   ICGB   ITILFND   JK0-022   JN0-102   JN0-360   LX0-103   LX0-104   M70-101   MB2-704   MB2-707   MB5-705   MB6-703   N10-006   NS0-157   NSE4   OG0-091   OG0-093   PEGACPBA71V1   PMP   PR000041   SSCP   SY0-401   VCP550   000-080   1Z0-051   300-208   350-029   102-400   1z0-434   220-801   70-347   1Z0-804   210-260   640-911   300-135   NSE4   EX200   070-461   70-534   700-501   9L0-012   MB6-703   400-101   70-480   M70-101   SY0-401   PMP   1Z0-061   9A0-385   642-732   000-017   9L0-066   JN0-102   1Z0-061   70-411   1V0-601   300-206   400-051   MB2-707   640-692   101   70-346   CISSP   HP0-S42   PR000041   PMP   300-075   200-125  , 300-135   CCA-500   2V0-620   CISM   OG0-093  

Are We Addicted to Cell Phones? – Greater Pensacola Parents

Are We Addicted to Cell Phones?

How much time did your kids spend with their cellphones yesterday? When was the last time you checked yours? If contemplating these questions makes you uncomfortable, you’re not alone. Cellphones dominate our lives in part because they are designed to do precisely that according to Tristran Harris, a tech entrepreneur who worked for a while as Product Ethicist at Google. He now runs TimeWellSpent, a non-profit that points out how cellphones and their apps hijack our attention. Some researchers have noted that brains scans of people who spend a lot of time online are disconcertingly similar to those of people with substance abuse problems.  Here are a few consequences you may recognize in yourself or your kids:


  • Time – Devoting more and more time to cellphone activities, partly because the person looses track of time and partly because it takes longer to feel satisfied
  • Obsession – Thinking about being online even when the person is offline. Failure to cut back despite resolutions.
  • Mood – Feeling anxious, restless, irritable or even angry when online activities are interrupted or when the person has to be offline.
  • Social – Withdrawal from friends and real life social activities. The feeling that online relationships are more significant and genuine.
  • Interference – Spending time online even when it interferes with other important activities including employment, schoolwork, chores, exercise, family time and sleep.
  • Deception –  Lying to oneself or others about how much time is spent with the phone.

For most people, of course, cellphone use doesn’t rise to the level of addiction. Still, many parents have the uneasy feeling that phones take too big a chunk of family life.  In contemporary culture, total abstinence isn’t realistic for adults or teens but there are ways to become more deliberate about when and how we use our phones. Here are a few suggestions:


  1. Evaluate activities. Pay attention to what you and your kids are doing on your phones.  Some activities- games, social media, news- are designed to be endless.  Others- gambling, shopping, looking at porn- are associated with off-line addictions.  Identify activities that are productive and/or enjoyable. How much time should be allotted to each? Develop a budget that guides how you spend your online time.  Use the timer on your phone–or ask other family members- to hold you accountable.
  2. Create an essential home screen.  Harris suggests sorting apps into three categories: Tools to help you complete essential tasks- calendar, camera, etc.  Bottomless Bowls are apps that encourage you to binge.  Aspirations are things you’d like to do.  Create a homescreen that includes ONLY indispensable tools and realistic aspirations. Hide other apps in folders where you won’t see seductive icons. Having a folder called News, Games or Social forces you to think, even briefly, about whether you really want to engage in that activity.
  3. Identify triggers. Addictive behavior often starts with uncomfortable feelings such as depression or anxiety. Talking about feelings helps children and adults recognize their emotions and make more conscious decisions about how to manage them.  If a family member is upset because of something that happened at school or work, he or she may get temporary relief from playing a game or binge-watching YouTube. That’s not necessarily a problem- if the person eventually thinks through the basic problem and comes up with ideas about how to address it.
  4. Customize notifications. The ding from a cellphone is like a slot machine. Most of the time it’s meaningless, but occasionally there’s a big payoff.  Assign special ringtones to family members and other people so you won’t miss genuinely important messages.  Then turn off notifications from everything else.  You won’t know everything about everybody all the time, so put an end to FOMO (Fear of Missing Out.)
  5. Create rich off-line lives.  Seek out tech-free experiences that are rewarding for family members.  Take every opportunity to be physically active, outdoors if possible. Ride bikes, take walks, play sports. Invite friends and extended family over for meals or game nights.  Collect cellphones at the door.
  6. Get an alarm clock. Using a cellphone as an alarm makes it the last thing you see before you fall asleep and the first thing you check in the morning. It may even interrupt sleep with notifications that matter much less than being rested. Claim the luxury of thinking your own thoughts as you drift off to sleep. Take a little time in the morning to wake up fully before engaging with whatever is on your phone.

Finally, appreciate what’s good about cellphones. Some researchers, for example, have noted that use of drugs and alcohol among teens has declined over the same period that smartphone use increased. They speculate that interactive media may satisfy adolescent cravings for independence, risk-taking and sensation seeking without the devastating consequences of other addictions.  In other words, cellphones like so many other technologies, can make lives better or worse. It’s up to parents to pay attention to that uneasy feeling about phones, so we can gently take corrective actions that restore them to their proper place. 

Carolyn Jabs, M.A., has been writing the Growing Up Online column for ten year. She is also the author of Cooperative Wisdom: Bringing People Together When Things Fall Apart.  Available at Amazon and Cooperative Wisdom.org.  @ Copyright, 2017, Carolyn Jabs. All rights reserved.

Carolyn Jabs

Carolyn Jabs, M.A., raised three computer savvy kids including one with special needs. She has been writing Growing Up Online for ten years and is working on a book about constructive responses to conflict. Visit www.growing-up-online.com to read other columns. @ Copyright, 2016, Carolyn Jabs. All rights reserved.