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Am I spending too much time on my mobile phone?
18th February, 2021 |
Do you ever wonder where all the time goes? Are you feeling anxious and afraid that you might be missing out on something? The reason might be closer to hand than you think.
For both young and old, our mobile phones are usually within easy reach and one of those essentials we never leave home without – keys, wallet, mobile phone!
And most of us probably realise we’re spending more time than ever before scrolling, swiping and browsing on our devices. But how much time are we really spending and how can we get more control over our phone use?
Read this guide from Gadget Cover to find out how to check your usage and what warning signs to look out for.
It’s so easy to have one last Facebook update or game of Candy Crush before bed, and it’s so hard to detach when our devices have become so integral to our lives. As we rely on them for so much more than simple communication, our lives can be seriously disrupted by breakdown, damage, loss and theft of our gadgets.
That’s why having insurance for your mobile phone in place for all the family is a necessary part of keeping our lives on track in uncertain times.
You’re not alone – mobile phone use in the UK
With the numbers of mobile phone users going up every year, people in the UK have become increasingly dependent on their digital devices and round-the-clock access to the internet.
According to Ofcom’s Communications Market Report, we now check our smartphones, on average, every 12 minutes of the waking day. While in the bedroom, 40% of adults look at their phone within five minutes of waking up, and 37% check their phones five minutes before bed.
The report claims there are many positives to mobile phone use. With 41% of us able to work more flexibly, and 74% saying it keeps us closer to our friends and family.
However, for significant numbers of people, being online also has negative effects. Around 15% complain it makes them feel like they’re always at work, and 54% admit it gets in the way of face-to-face conversations with friends and family. Just under half (43%) also admit to spending too much time online.
But what about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic? Pre-lockdown, the average amount of time spent online on a smartphone was 2 hours 28 minutes a day.
This rose to 3 hours 14 minutes among 18-24s. However, with many people unable to leave their homes to socialise with friends and family, they turned to their smartphones for entertainment, to stay connected and for official health advice or announcements.
Looking at TV and online video services during lockdown, Ofcom reported that, on average, UK viewers spent a whopping six hours and 25 minutes each day watching TV and online video content – a total of almost 45 hours a week, and a rise of around a third compared to 2019.
The biggest factor behind this increase was people spending twice as much time watching subscription streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. And this trend looks set to continue with the majority saying they planned to keep their new subscriptions.
Over half of viewers said they’ll continue to spend the same amount of time watching streamed content as they did during lockdown.
When we realise how important our phones are to our mental wellbeing, no wonder so many of us invest in the best mobile phone insurance available.
How much time do you spend on your mobile phone?
Whatever the positives and negatives of increased mobile phone usage, it’s always useful to know how you measure up when compared to others.
Reacting to fears from consumers about mobile phone use, many tech companies have built in tools to keep your mobile phone habits under close scrutiny.
Apple’s Screen Time is a core part of iOS and an essential tool to help you keep control of the time you’re spending on your phone.
It monitors the way you use your device, showing everything from how long you've spent on certain apps, to how many times you've picked up your phone in the last hour!
To turn on Screen Time follow these easy steps:
- Go to Settings > Screen Time
- Tap Turn On Screen Time
- Tap Continue
- Select This is My [device] or This is My Child's [device]
You can now get a report about how you use your device, apps and websites, at a time to suit you.
To do this go to Settings > Screen Time and tap See All Activity under the graph. From here you can not only keep a track on your activity but also manage some important settings. These are:
- Downtime – Schedule downtime in Settings to only allow phone calls and specific apps during this period.
- App limits – Set daily limits for certain app categories like games.
- Communication limits – Control who your children can message through the day and during downtime.
- Always allowed – Certain apps can always be accessed, even if it's downtime or if you’ve reached your set screen time limit.
- Content & Privacy Restrictions – This lets you set the type of content that appears on your device.
If you’re not using an Apple device, chances are your phone will be running the Android operating system. Android’s Digital Wellbeing feature tracks your daily screen time, notifications, and phone unlocks.
It’s accessible through your device’s settings but you need to enable it first as it’s not on by default. Follow these easy steps to set it up:
- Go to Settings > Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls
- Tap the three-dot menu on the top right
- Tap Manage Your Data
- Toggle on Daily Device Usage
You can now use your phone to keep a record of app usage, notifications, and device unlocks.
In addition, the app has two types of tools to help you reduce screen time and distractions. The Ways to Disconnect tool includes great options like setting app timers, Bedtime mode, and Focus mode.
The Reduce Interruptions tool offers shortcuts to app notification management and Do Not Disturb mode.
Signs you’re spending too much time on your phone
Working out when phone use turns from frequent-use to excessive-use is a tricky question. Particularly when everyone you know is doing it, too!
As well as keeping a check on your phone habits, here are some warning signs that might suggest you need to cut down.
Are you phubbing your friends and family?
Phubbing is the act of snubbing someone you're with in person in favour of your phone. Quite simply, it's phone snubbing. While quickly checking your phone for a second during a chat might not seem like a big deal it can lead to needless relationship stress. Neglecting friends and family never turns out well!
Do you constantly compare yourself to others?
We all do it, but if you're getting overwhelmed by comparing your life with those on social media it could mean your spending too much time online. Weighing your life up against those featured on Instagram will always leave you dissatisfied and can soon lead to social anxiety. Do you really need validation from the digital world?
Is your phone the first and last thing you see every day?
Phone use at night can affect your sleep patterns and even lead to insomnia. And rushing to check your phone first thing in the morning isn’t the best way to start your day. Instead, why not develop some more positive habits to get you up and ready?
Do you fill quiet moments by checking your phone?
It’s so easy to escape from situations of boredom, anxiety and regret by clicking on your phone. Whether you’re waiting in line at the checkout or realising you don’t know anyone at the party, it’s all too easy to put our heads down and start swiping.
Next time you have nothing to do, instead of reaching for your phone, opt for something completely different. Get outside for some physical exercise, pick up a book, take up a hobby – all much more important than scrolling through the latest Twitter spats!
How do you feel without your mobile phone?
How do you feel when you exceed your monthly data allowance? Or you leave your charger at home? If you feel anxious, irritable and uncomfortable when you’re away from your phone even for a short period it might be time to get back in control. Your mobile phone is a tool for you to use, it’s not the other way around!
Indeed, you might even have fallen victim to Nomophobia! This condition, discovered by Iowa State University researchers, is short for “no mobile phone phobia.” They identified it after an in-depth study of US university students.
If you want to know more then take this handy 20-question survey to measure your phone dependence - you might be shocked by the results!
Leaving your phone behind if you go on a short holiday could be a good way of working out how reliant you are on it. But if that sounds too extreme and you really must take it with you then make sure you have mobile phone insurance in place in case of holiday mishaps.
5 top tips for reducing mobile phone use
If it looks like you might be spending too much time with your cherished gadget, then try some of these top tips to get back in control.
Change notification settings
Are your push notifications still set to defaults? Are you drowning under a deluge of emails, messages, and alerts from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and dozens of other apps? Turn down the noise by turning off notifications for anything that’s not essential.
Use built-in Android and iOS apps
Both Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing are a great way to cut back on your tech addiction! Aside from this built-in functionality, also check out third-party apps such as Rescue Time, Freedom or Moment.
Stop using your phone as an alarm clock
Rather than keeping your phone next to you at night keep it further away or better yet in another room entirely. That way you’re not tempted to pick it up for some late night surfing! Invest in a separate alarm clock to help break the link between your phone and bed.
Set social boundaries
Do you really need to check your phone during dinner? Cut out unhealthy or rude behaviour by keeping devices away from the table during meal times.
Reorganise your applications
It’s easy for social media apps to force their way onto the front of your home screen. Don’t let them get away with it! Banish them to a separate folder so you have to engage your brain if you want to use them.
If you use your phone for both personal and business purposes it can be difficult to reduce the time spent on your mobile. But if you really must use your phone outside of business hours make sure it’s protected by mobile phone insurance.
Mobile phone insurance from Gadget Cover
From social media stress to online scams it’s hard to protect against all mobile phone risks. But you can always rely on Gadget Cover’s team of insurance specialists to find the best mobile phone insurance policy for your gadget, at the best price.
Even if you’ve got your mobile phone use under control, life without one can be hard. That’s why policies arranged through Gadget Cover can include protection for your devices from accidental damage, liquid damage, theft and breakdown. For an extra premium, loss can also be covered.
Additional benefits can include:
- Unauthorised usage cover – If your gadget is accidentally lost or stolen, we will refund the cost of unauthorised transactions made using your e-Wallet facility (up to £500).
- Accessories cover – We’ll replace mobile accessories (up to £150) if they are lost, stolen or damaged at the same time as your gadget.
- Worldwide cover – Cover is automatically extended to include use of your phone anywhere in the world, up to 180 days in any one year.
Get a quick quote for quality mobile phone insurance today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.