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Six tips for controlling cell phone addiction: you are in charge of your device, not the other way around

Screen time, endless feed, viral videos on one network, heated discussions on another, videos of cute animals on WhatsApp, emails filling your inbox… All of this in the palm of your hand. The debate about having a healthy relationship with your cell phone is not that recent and, even so, it seems that people are increasingly online and less so in the real world.

Let's face it, detoxing from social media or exchanging your smartphone for an older model with fewer features is not a viable solution, even because of work. So would it be possible not to be a hostage to technology and still make use of it every day? According to experts consulted by The New York Times, yes.

Check out some tips on how to control cell phone use (and not the other way around) and, finally, stop hearing the famous “Put that phone down!” (yes, it is still – also – a telephone!).

1 – “Do I really need to do this now?”

That's the question you should ask when you realize you've been scrolling through your Instagram feed for so long that you already know what the life of your third-grade friend's great-aunt is like.

It's normal to pick up the device without even realizing it, but you need to notice when this happens and control these impulses. By becoming aware of what you are about to do, you interrupt automatic behavior and awaken the part of the brain responsible for self-control.

The tip comes from Richard J. Davidson, founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2 – Don’t use your cell phone while driving, walking, or on the bus…

Anna Lembke, professor of psychiatry and anti-addiction medicine at Stanford University, told the American newspaper that one of the biggest problems with smartphone addiction is “on-the-go” use.

“We are missing a wealth of information and signals in the world around us, and also depriving ourselves of the opportunity to process and interpret what we experience,” he said. In other words: avoid using your cell phone while walking from one meeting to another, while drinking coffee, while walking on the treadmill and, if you want to be a little daring, turn off the device while you are on the bus.

3 – Technological breaks

Just as digital detox or switching to a non-smart cell phone is not at all viable nowadays, staying away from applications you use on a daily basis for a long time can be very difficult – but focusing on something else for ten minutes it's much easier.

University of California neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley suggests scheduling 10- to 15-minute technology breaks into your day — even if you schedule those breaks on your own phone, like a “Take a walk without your phone” reminder.

4 – Control the environment

If it were easy to just rely on our own willpower, everything would be much easier. But adjusting the environment around us, according to James A. Roberts, a consumer behavior expert at Baylor University, makes it much easier.

Scheduling the next day's alarm on your cell phone is the door to temptation to “quickly” check WhatsApp messages, Instagram DMs, work emails, TikTok viral content or the early morning news on X (and get involved in some online discussion). Having a physical alarm clock is a very simple solution. Write down your tasks for the day on paper and not in the notes on your smartphone, too.

5 – You are the one in charge of technology, not the other way around

One tip that all four experts gave is: control technology so it doesn't control you. Configure your notifications only for emails classified as urgent. Take one day a week to respond to messages on WhatsApp that are more punctual. Delete applications that take up your time and are not necessary – you can use them in your computer's browser, for example.

Bonus tip: Watch CNN Good News and adopt a pet!

It may seem contradictory, but watching the CNN Good News the good news show on CNN Pop's YouTube, can get you out of feed unnecessary and compulsive addiction for a few minutes – and still stay up to date with positive news from Brazil and the world.

A group of puppies, available for adoption, are always present in each episode. Adopting them will bring joy to your home and still keep you away from your cell phone (because petting them, playing with them and taking them for walks is much more worth it than stalking someone from your past).

For more information on how to adopt, visit Adote ViCa, a partner adoption center of Good News.

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A post shared by ADOTE ViCa (@adotevica)

Source: CNN Brasil

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