The Fast Track to Nowhere

Nowadays, the most common use of a phone book is to serve as a booster seat for child at the table. Like grocery shopping and trading stocks, finding phone numbers and addresses are simple as a few swipes of a finger. Without a doubt, cell phones and other wonders of technology have placed the power of an advanced computer in the palm of our hands. We can send emails and videos without stepping into an office, and avoid trips to the supermarket and mall. If typing or swiping takes too long, you can use your voice and instruct your device to get the job done. One may assume that with all these time saving advances, we are now all much more relaxed and enjoying the serenity of leisurely down time. Of course, the reality is otherwise.

Technology is a double-edged sword. Despite the many conveniences it has created, there is little proof to suggest that it has contributed to our quality of life. In fact, many people will tell you that having the world at their fingertips only makes them feel more stressed. This is especially true among younger people, who are quicker to embrace every new leap forward. With the breakneck speed of social media posts, entertainment news along with their job requirements, it’s no wonder that this demographic is feeling frazzled.


Mental health professionals have confirmed this troubling trend. A few years ago, a study was conducted in the UK and new term was coined. Nomophobia (“no-mobile-phone-phobia”) may not be a clinical term, but it refers to the irrational fear of being without a cell phone. People with this phobia check their phones constantly, take their phones everywhere they go and spend many hours per day using their phones. They experience feelings of helplessness when they are separated from their phones, are out of range or low on battery power. 

Not everyone who is a smartphone user will be adversely affected, but those who struggle to maintain a healthy usage will likely feel the disturbing effects of nomophobia in one way or another. In a publication called Computers in Human Behavior, authors came to the following conclusion: “Studies have shown that frequent or compulsive mobile phone use is connected to increased stress, anxiety and depression. Excessive phone use has been linked to a number of negative effects that include decreased grades, increased anxiety, lower life satisfaction and a lower sense of overall well-being.

Easy Steps to Break a Troublesome Trend

The best way to break free from a constant urge to check our phones is by setting boundaries. First, choose one time of day that your phone will be out of sight and out of mind. For most people, dinner time is the obvious choice. We all know how unpleasant it is when someone at the dinner table pulls out their device, even for a few quick swipes. Here, technology can actually be part of the cure, if you use the settings on the phone to disable it at dinner time.

Once you have claimed your freedom over part of your day, this can be a stepping stone to shape a healthy routine with a balanced use of technology. A phone free time zone enforces the idea that messages and calls can wait; let’s remember that we are not the President of the United Sates and we do not have an aide nearby holding the nuclear football. No longer will you feel the need to check an incoming text when you are speaking to another person.  

A factor that contributes to constantly checking our phones is the fact that it is so accessible. Whenever there’s a free moment, it’s so easy to slip out the phone for a quick peek. Sometimes the device does not even make it back to the pocket, so it’s even harder to resist the urge when it’s right there in our hands. Creating a physical distance between ourselves and our phones is an easy way to reduce dependability. Try putting the device in a desk drawer when you get to work on arrive home, and you will see what a difference that makes.