For lots of smartphone users – especially at the turn of a new year – the idea of doing a digital detox, in which you refrain from using your electronic devices, holds some appeal.
It’s an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world. But could you really live without your smartphone?
We all like to think we’re not too dependent on our smartphones for living – but your weekly screen time stats might tell a different story!
Sometimes the choice is taken away from us and we’re forced to do without our smartphones for a period of time. We’re referring to if you were to lose your phone or have it stolen. Thankfully, there’s gadget insurance if you misplace your smartphone or find yourself a victim of theft. But that still doesn’t change the fact that you will be phoneless for a few days.
If the thought of being away from your smartphone makes you feel anxious or stressed, you could be experiencing what’s known as nomophobia. Shortened from “no mobile phone phobia,” nomophobia describes a fear of not having your phone that’s so persistent and severe it affects your daily life.
This 21st century malaise affects many of us to different degrees. In a recent YouGov survey, one in five 18 to 24 year olds admitted that they would be nervous about being ‘disconnected from my online identity’ if they went without their phones for a day.
You might be reading this article thinking that you would have no trouble disconnecting for a day – or longer, potentially – from your smartphone. In fact, getting back to a life pre-social media might be quite relaxing!
However, here are 10 signs that you might find it harder than you think…
Your screen time is higher than average
According to research from RescueTime, people are glued to their phones for three hours and 15 minutes on average every day. The top 20% of smartphone users who were surveyed spent more than four and a half hours scrolling on their devices.
What’s healthy and what’s not when it comes to screen time is up for debate. But let’s break those numbers down a bit. If you spend four hours on your smartphone a day, that amounts to more than 60 days over the course of the year. What else could you be doing with that time?
Apps like RescueTime allow you to see exactly where you’re spending your time across all devices, with a view to helping you to rebuild your focus and spend more time on what matters most to you. That’s all well and good but it can require some incredible willpower to go from four hours a day to nothing.
You’re prone to FOMO
If you’re not experiencing nomophobia, you might be suffering from a bout of FOMO (Fear of missing out). Some people can’t help but think that others are having more fun, living better lives, or experiencing better things than they are.
This is often exacerbated by social media sites where people post (sometimes contrived) updates about their lives in the pursuit of likes or shares.
If you love checking social media every day, it could prove difficult to give up your smartphone which is your window into other people’s worlds. You know it’s not healthy to compare your life to the lives of others, but you just can’t help yourself.
Stepping back from your smartphone allows you to break the cycle – even if only temporarily – and release the anxiety of “missing out” on things.
You use your phone for navigational purposes
Smartphones are not only a source of distraction, they have their practical uses, too. Arguably one of the best things about a smartphone is its ability to point you in the right direction.
Whether on foot, on your bike or in your car, apps like Google Maps will be able to get you from A to B – via the quickest route – no matter where you are in the world.
So, if your sense of direction isn’t all that and you rely on your phone’s navigation feature for even the shortest of trips, you could find yourself lost – quite literally – without your smartphone to call upon.
You don’t own a camera
For your average, amateur snapper, today’s smartphone cameras are so good that you don’t really need to own a bulky DSLR camera.
The latest iPhone 11 Pro has not one, not two, but three cameras! When making the announcement about the latest iteration of the Apple smartphone, the company’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said: “With these three cameras you have incredible creative control. It is so pro, you’re going to love using it.”
The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max both boast a wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens, and an ultra-wide angle lens so you can take a variety of shots all around you while standing in one place.
Could you live without taking photos? While some people definitely take too many pictures, smartphones undoubtedly give us the ability to capture precious moments instantly, without any hassle.
You love a deal
Who doesn’t love a deal? We all do. And our smartphones allow us to be ready and waiting when the good ones go live.
You could argue that there’s nothing stopping you from loading up your laptop on Black Friday, poised to claim that pair of trainers that you’ve been waiting all year for. But, it’s just so much more convenient with your phone, having set yourself a reminder to load up the website you need when the deal goes live at 9am. You don’t even need to move out of bed.
Giving up your smartphone risks missing out on a hot deal. Could you live with that?
You phone is your toilet companion
If you can’t put your phone down even to go to the toilet, how are you going to live without it for even a few days?
Let’s face it, going to the loo isn’t exactly a barrel of laughs, so bringing a phone to the throne can make things a little more entertaining, even if it isn’t the most hygienic thing in the world to do.
Lots of people have fallen into this habit. As per a YouGov survey, the majority of Brits (57%) admit to using their phones on the toilet, including 8% who say they “always” do it and another 14% who say they do “most times”.
Such findings cause health experts to grimace, who point out that germs are present all over the bathroom and touching a wall or a toilet seat before sitting down will transfer them to your phone if you subsequently decide to do some browsing on the bog.
We wash our hands, not our phones, after we use the toilet, so that makes them a transporter for these germs – only to reinfect you the next time you handle it or hold it up to your face.
You hate taking phone calls
Here’s a good slice of irony. The smartphone was created to make it easier for people to talk to each other but the technology has only served to put a whole generation off making phone calls.
While millennials think nothing of sending a text message, they go out of their way to dodge traditional calls. Why? A survey by gadget retail site BankMyCell sought to get to the bottom of why the younger generation, who love their phones, hate talking on them.
The top reasons given were that it’s “too time-consuming”, they don’t enjoy talking to “a whiny/needy person” and it can mean being asked to do a favour for someone.
The survey calls this demographic “generation mute” as they have lots of other forms of communication to choose from – not just talking in the traditional way.
If you fall into this group who despise phone calls – preferring to send a text in order to get a message across to a friend or colleague – doing away with your smartphone could be a problem. You might have to invest in a landline!
You sleep with your phone
Using your phone in bed is not conducive to a good night’s sleep but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves.
New research suggests that nearly one in four UK adults have trouble sleeping because they spend too long on their phones before bed. Why? Because the bright blue light emitted from the screen can mimic daylight and trick our bodies into staying awake by preventing the release of melatonin.
The survey by phone manufacturer OnePlus shows that young people, in particular, have trouble switching off at night – literally.
A whopping 86% of millennials said they had trouble sleeping having been on their phones before hitting the pillow. And 15% of those aged between 18-34 admitted to using their devices in the early hours between 11pm and 3am.
If this all sounds familiar, you should seriously consider putting your smartphone into Airplane Mode during sleeping hours so that you’re not woken up by notifications or the temptation to have a browse on social media. You might find yourself sleeping through and waking up the next morning with a spring in your step.
At the very least, make sure you change your smartphone to ‘dark mode’ if you plan on using it in bed. This is designed to be less harsh on a user’s eyes in low-light conditions.
Commenting on the survey results, Lisa Artis, head of The Sleep Council, said: “Blue light is beneficial in daylight hours as it boosts mood, reaction times and concentration but in the evening, the recommendation is to avoid screen time for an hour before bedtime to help increase melatonin levels.”
You suffer from phantom vibration syndrome
Ever felt like your phone has buzzed in your pocket, only for you to take it out and find no notifications, no calls, nothing? That’s phantom vibration syndrome, the perception that your mobile phone is vibrating or ringing when it’s not.
It’s a fairly harmless phenomenon – a study into it found that “most users do not find phantom vibration hallucinations to be very bothersome”. But it also highlighted just how many people experience phantom vibration syndrome. According to the paper, nine out of 10 people have experienced it.
According to the research, published in the Computers in Human Behaviour journal, when we regularly leave a phone in our pocket, it almost becomes part of our body, similar to how people who wear glasses sometimes forget that they’re actually already on the top of their head!
So, trying to live without something that has essentially become part of your body wouldn’t be easy for anyone.
You can’t run without music
Smartphones aren’t always a burden on our health. If used correctly, they can help us become fitter, more aware of our mental health and better educated.
For example, many people use the music on their smartphones for motivation when exercising – the prospect of going for a run without something in your ears to keep you entertained can be much less appealing. You might not even be inclined to pull on your running trainers in the first place.
Ultimately, balance is key. A smartphone adds value to our lives if it’s used in the right way and doesn’t become something that we feel we need to check every other minute of the day.
Insure your tech with Gadget Cover
With so much personal information existing on our mobiles, laptops and more, it’s important that you give them proper protection. At Gadget Cover, we can help you to secure gadget insurance for all your devices.
Your home insurance policy may not include adequate cover for expensive tech, so it’s always worth checking the smallprint. A specific gadget insurance policy could provide you with more thorough cover, at a price that beats the insurance offered by mobile networks or high street retailers.