Most people are inseparable from their smartphones, whether it's because they're checking for notifications every so often, posting on social media, or powering up games. While what you can do with that palm-sized device is pretty amazing, it’s also somewhat alarming—your smartphone and all the apps you have are developed for you to stay on them for as long as possible. Meaning, it’s pretty easy to get hooked.
In fact, according to an interview with author and New York University professor Adam Adler by Knowledge@Wharton, a recent study revealed that there are people who would rather choose to break a bone rather than to break their phone.
“A total of 46% of people prefer a broken bone to a broken phone. But even the people who say they’d prefer a broken phone, when you watch them make the decision, it’s not like a snap decision,” he said. “They agonize and start to think about all the things that could go wrong and what happens if I don’t have my phone. A lot of them say, ‘At least when I’m recovering from the broken bone, I have the phone to comfort me.’ This really is an addiction. It’s pretty extreme.”
He also explains that while many relate addiction to substance abuse, experiences—such as getting excited over notifications or being engrossed in a game—can also have the same hook.
“The body and the brain respond pretty much the same way to these experiences. You see the same release of dopamine, which is a chemical in the brain that makes us feel good. And you see the same behavioral responses.” In fact, there are people who are in it so bad that being away from their devices causes anxiety.
Curing this sort of addiction can be very complicated, since people are now programmed to click or tap when they’re triggered by a notification or when they see social media logos. However, you can somehow curb it. Author and Baylor University professor Dr. James Roberts explains on TIME that you need to find your “digital sweet spot”. “That’s the place where you call the shots instead of your smartphone.” You’ll need to be aware of digital habits and for how long you’re on your device.
Based on that, you’ll need to use your phone less. Maybe it’s uninstalling a very addictive but useless app, or cutting back on your social media activities. It’s also important to be strict about when you should stop using your phones, such as during meals and right before you sleep.
Don’t be afraid to be idle. Quieting your mind (and your fingers) can help you keep you grounded and give you more time to actually go out and live your life.