Dr. Joy: Smart Phone Over Use

By WEEK Producer

August 17, 2011 Updated Aug 17, 2011 at 7:09 PM CDT

Are you a habitual smartphone user? That is our discuss with Dr. Joy.
We will look at the new phenomenon that is taking hold of millions of phone users and you can decide if you are addicted and some steps to crush the behavior.

You say that many people have become habitual users of their smartphones. I understand you have a quick checklist to see if someone fits the criteria.
Do you check your email more than is necessary. Be honest with yourself, are you checking a need or a want?
Are you annoying people with always being on your smartphone? Have people made comments about your usage?
Does the thought of not checking your smartphone create anxiety? Once again, be honest with yourself. Try to put your phone away for an hour and see what happens.

What creates our habitual need to always be checking our phone?
Researchers suggest that we feel important when we get a text, email or other notifications. It builds our self esteem
· Researchers also suggest that our connection triggers something in our brain when we get email or a text and many times those things have a positive impact and make us feel wanted or needed
· Many people feel alone, isolated and checking emails, Facebook, twitter, makes them feel connected with the world and others.
· Checking has also become a fashionable way to isolate, avoid interacting and avoiding things we don't want to do… it has become an insulator
· The brain connects with the positive feeling and then a pattern arises and we want to feel that positive rush again, and so we check habitually

What are some tips for those of us who just discovered we may be habitually in love with our smartphone?
· Acknowledge: The first step is always awareness so you can address the issue. Denial only further charges the habitual behaviors.
· Make free-zone times: Set times when you agree to not look at your smartphone. Perhaps that time will be during dinners or meal times with others, or perhaps after a certain time of the night.
· Establish free-zone places: Maybe that location will be the bedroom, the kitchen or perhaps on a vacation
· Evaluate: Be honest and determine what "purpose" the smartphone has for you and take small steps to minimize the behaviors and interact more face to face vs. through the phone

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