Digital detox: Promised! Tomorrow I stop!

According to a study conducted in 2018 by the CSA and Bouygues Telecom, the French would connect 1h30 per day on average to their smartphone, and up to 3h on average for those under 25.

18 September 2023

The “special” period that we have been living for more than a year now, has considerably accentuated our total dependence on digital tools. While our physical social interactions have decreased overall, those with our smartphones, computers or other digital devices have increased more than ever. They invite themselves on our desks, in our beds, in our pockets, but above all, in our heads, from morning to night.

Let’s just ask ourselves one question: How many times a day do you mechanically reach out to your smartphone to check your notifications, read your emails, or sometimes even for no apparent reason?

According to a study conducted in 2018 by the CSA and Bouygues Telecom in 2018, the French would connect 1h30 per day on average to their smartphone, and up to 3h on average for those under 25. 62% of French people would be unable to do without it for a whole day. And if they had to choose between two activities, 79% of respondents would prefer their smartphone to alcohol, 66% to sports, 61% to coffee, and 41% to sex.

If, like us, you feel concerned, there is no need at this stage to feel guilty. But it is not useless to remind the most dependent, that there are however tricks to regain a little control over his consumption and his life, the real one!

And then, how do you cut the cord with your smartphone? We will try to answer them for you. Here is an almost practical guide not to flinch.

Step 1: Mea culpa, or why everything brings you back to him

The first step to fighting a habit is first to recognize it, and understand it. Smartphone addiction is a recognized behavioral addiction, which has a name: nomophobia. Born from the contraction of the English “no mobile phobia”, this term refers more precisely to the anxiety related to the idea of having to part with his smartphone.

Dopamine is one of the main culprits. It is a neurotransmitter, a molecule responsible for pleasure, motivation and addiction. With likes, shares, comments, it is regularly activated, and this pushes us to return to our smartphone: we hope to find this little dose of pleasure. Web companies have understood this, and are developing different tools to make their applications as addictive and fun as possible. The goal is for you to come back to it as often as possible, and then stay there. The advertising model of some sites is based on your attention.

To learn more about your screen consumption, you can use built-in features. On an iPhone, go to your phone’s settings, “screen time” tab. On Android, you will have to go to your settings at the battery tab. It then depends on the interfaces: sometimes you have to click on the battery icon, sometimes click on “battery usage”.

Step 2: The fashionable selective sorting “Does it spark joy?”

Surely you have already heard of Marie Kondo, the queen of sorting and tidying up. She has a rule in life: keep only the objects that bring you joy. It’s time to do the same with your apps, and your notifications.

For the former, you can delete those that do not bring you much, and better tidy up the others. For example, group applications dedicated to work on the same screen or in a folder that you will be less tempted to consult on weekends.

On the notification side, sorting is also necessary. If you want to be reminded of this important dentist appointment, it may not be worth keeping Candy Crush notifications. You can only turn on the sound when you’re waiting for an urgent message, or make sure you don’t see any badge on your screensaver.

Step 3: Black is black, I still have hope

Tristan Harris is a former Google engineer. Since he slammed the doors of Silicon Valley in 2016, he has made it his mission to help smartphone users quit, within the Center for Human Technology. Among his tips, there is the fact of passing his screen in black and white.

According to him, this would allow us to be less attracted by our notifications and the contents of our device in general, such as the pretty colorful logos of social networks. The effectiveness of the method remains to be proven according to some specialists, but users seem satisfied.

To test this option, you just have to go to your settings. Here is a tutorial for iPhone owners, and one for Android smartphone owners.

Step 4: revisit your classics and your “Ah que coucou”

The option of a Swiss cuckoo is perhaps a bit extreme. But taking your alarm clock out of your drawers and not using your smartphone can help you disconnect.

The bravest will even leave their phone out of the room during the night, so as not to be tempted to spend time on it at first light.

And if you doubt the benefits of the cuckoo, you can visualize this mythical sequence that the under 20s can not yet know:

Step 5: “Less is more” or how to choose apps to use other apps less

It may seem a bit paradoxical, but there are applications to use your smartphone less. Be careful, however, some of them can collect (too) many personal data. Remember to check their terms of use before downloading or using them.

Cleverest is one of those that collects only little data, and only that necessary for the proper functioning of its service. It allows you to set timers of varying durations, during which you agree not to pay attention to your smartphone.

You also have time limitation options on Apple and Android operating systems. Once your limit is reached, you will receive a notification, which will prompt you to disconnect.

More radical, the safe with built-in timer in which you place your phone, and which will only open once the set time has elapsed.

Step 6: “I can’t, I have pony”

To disconnect from work on your days off, feel free to use the auto-reply options on your inbox. Add the name and email address of the emergency contact to be really quiet.

You can also record a message on your professional voice answering machine, in which you will specify the dates of your vacation. You just have to remember to change it when you come back…

If, despite all this, you are still struggling to cut the cord, it is probably because you are suffering from an “acute algorithmetity”. But rest assured, with time, it can be cured! 😉

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