What would Steve Jobs think about smartphone addiction today? Afterall, he started the craze in 2007 with the invention of the iPhone. If his vision was to make us never want to be able to put down our iPhone, mission accomplished.
Smartphone Addiction Symptoms
- Low Activity. Getting shit done becomes next to impossible
- Anxiety. The #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) takes over your mind and body
- Withdrawal. Having a panic attack when your smartphone is not with you
- Intolerance. Getting annoyed when your smartphone time is interrupted
Today we spend about five hours a day on our smartphone, doing just about everything from checking Facebook to banking to watching Netflix. Ironically making a call isn’t even one of the most used functions on a smartphone, instead our smartphone addiction runs deep in the mobile apps. Gaming is the most popular category next to business, education, and lifestyle. We’re getting directions, listening to music, video chatting and of course feeding and grooming the social media monster.
The smartphone addiction causes are endless with apps being the biggest lures. When Apple launched the App Store in 2008 it touted 552 apps, today we have 2.2 million apps available for download to choose from.
If you are wondering why you can’t put your phone down, the struggle is real. It’s actually called nomophobia; meaning ”fear of being without your mobile.” And of course, there’s an app for that. Time spent on mobile devices has almost doubled in the U.S, since 2012 and tripled in Brazil.
What’s the big deal?
Twisted as it sounds, app developers are studying the brain and its response triggers. Why? They want to figure out exactly what it takes to push your brain cell buttons into tapping and scrolling your smartphone for as long and as much as possible. It’s called brain hacking. I mean afterall, it’s not the phone’s fault is it? Jobs didn’t invent the iPhone so we would become co-dependent on it, did he? Maybe.
Staring at your phone is the new normal.
Gen Z is chatting on Snapchat. The Millennials are fantasizing on Instagram. Baby boomers are trolling Facebook. Gen Y and X are planning on Pinterest, job searching on LinkedIn and meanwhile, we’re all dissecting the latest breaking news on Twitter. Oh, and If you work in in the social media marketing industry there is no escaping the constant stream of notifications. In the background is Spotify while Fitbit is tracking your steps and reminding you to take a break. Hopefully, you switch gears to the meditation app that takes you away from your smartphone – mentally at least.
The innovative genius and technological pioneer that he was, Jobs was also known for his deep spirituality. Everyone attending his funeral in 2010 was given a copy of his favorite book Autobiography of a Yogi. It was said to be his only book on his iPad and one that Jobs reread once a year. Known for an infamous trip to India early in his career, Jobs credits the journey to helping him reinvent himself and gave him space to create a plan for the eventual rebirth of Apple.
What advice would Jobs give to us today about Smartphone addiction? How would he feel about the possible distractions iPhones could be on his team?
The spiritual side of Jobs might give us these tips inspired by Yogananda, one of his favorite spiritual leaders:
Smartphones can zap away our level of awareness. Walking and texting is a new talent and danger In case you missed the many YouTube videos of people caught texting and falling in fountains because they were not aware of their surrounding.
“Time is spent in rushing, in racing, in getting nowhere. Very few of us stop, think, and find out what life can give to us,” said Yogananda in his writing on awareness. The modern day message: slow down and stop trying to multitask.
“Every tomorrow is determined by every today.” -Paramahansa Yogananda
What exactly are you trying to do each day? Get very clear on your intentions for the month, week, day, hour. Your words, thoughts, and actions craft energy into your intentions outcome. Trying to write a book or article? Spending smartphone hours on your personal Facebook feed or Snapchat is not in line with your intentions. Neither is telling yourself you have writer’s block.
“Since you alone are responsible for your thoughts, only you can change them.” -Paramahansa Yogananda
Once you are clear on your attention now shift your attention on the things that will get it done. Try putting your smartphone on Do Not Disturb for a few hours each day so you can zero in your attention on your stated intention. When I realized my teenage daughter was up all night on Snapchat with her friends, I found an App for that. OurPact let me take control of her apps and shut them down at bedtime, the time when the intention was sleep.
“Opportunities in life come by creation, not by chance.” – Paramahansa Yogananda
It’s a fact that multitasking is not productive. The brain works best when there is focus, calmness, and breath. You will get more done when you try to do less. Your smartphone can help increase productivity using one of the many apps, but it’s a fine line of balance between using the productive side of your smartphone versus the time sucking features that can rob you of precious time.
“Don’t do anything in a haphazard way; do everything with full attention, but don’t do too many things. Pick up the more important things and do them with all your heart. Potentially, all knowledge is within you.” -Paramahansa Yogananda
Our smartphones are so smart they’re even in charge of waking us up. But experts warn the blue light from a smartphone can have damaging effects on our sleep and can even cause cancer. Put the mobile device away at least 2-3 hours before going to sleep and read real books vs ebooks in bed.
When you are in bed at night, try Yogananda’s 20 body part exercise, focusing on relaxation. Tense each individual body part with medium tension, then relax: left foot, right foot; left calf, right calf; left thigh, right thigh; left buttock, right buttock; abdomen, stomach; left forearm, right forearm; left upper arm, right upper arm; left chest, right chest; left neck, right neck; throat, back of neck. This exercise relaxes and also balances the inner energy flow, which might help you to be relaxed during sleep. No app required!
The reality of smartphone addiction: what would we do without them? It’s our job to balance the poison and the power.