Recently several column inches and radio waves have been devoted to the topic of producer and TV judge Simon Cowell and his revelation that he ceased engagement with his smartphone and all associated online activity almost one year ago. Why did he do it? How has he functioned without it? What effect has it had on him? And is it a trend we should all follow?
Giving up his phone was a “strange experience”, Cowell claims, but one he believes has improved his mental health and happiness. Award-winning science journalist Catherine Price, author of How To Break Up With Your Phone, couldn’t agree more. After a wake-up call where her phone held her attention over the joy of being absorbed by her young baby she realised it was time to act. Now a convert to never checking social media, Price believes that reducing contact time is not only beneficial for our mental health and wellbeing but essential. Spending so many hours on our phone each day, she argues, does not support our ability to focus, think deeply and form new memories. She goes on to state that our smartphones and the apps we utilise are actually designed to be addictive.
How much happier would we be without our smart phones?
As I reached for my phone to remind myself of my next appointment I pondered that some there was truth in this. Consider how many times you’ve opened a text message and without realising have moved onto quickly answering that important email, checked the traffic or the weather and before you know it have ordered that must-have item, before the end of sale countdown reached zero. I am sure many of us can relate to this at some point. But besides reducing our memory recall and concentration spans what impact is it actually having on our health?
Many psychological studies prove that humans are designed to derive happiness from face-to-face interaction with other humans so by relying on technological methods alone our experience remains incomplete – and as a result the quality of our relationships is reduced. Furthermore we suffer reduced happiness or to put it another way, we can become sad.
To remove technology altogether might make you think that you are taking a backwards step in our fast-paced digital world – unless, like Simon Cowell, you have an army of assistants to help you keep your fingers on the pulse. But removing the desire to check our smartphones so regularly is achievable and the health benefits will speak for themselves.
From FOMO to JOMO
So how do we reduce our addiction to screen time without attending a digital detox camp? Tech giants Google and Apple have recognised that corporate responsibility needs to play its part. Google is creating a feature entitled JOMO (Joy of Missing Out as opposed to FOMO, fear of missing out) to help people better understand their tech usage and disconnect when necessary and likewise Apple is releasing an upgrade during autumn 2018 which will provide customers with a weekly usage summary and allow them to set a session timer. Both companies claim these developments will help create healthier habits to benefit the whole family.
All of this sounds very welcome in terms of minimising stress levels caused by technology, a factor highlighted by neuroscientist, Dr Jack Lewis, in his book The Science of Sin. He encourages us to take responsibility by removing screens from the bedroom, enabling the silent mode and only checking our phone once an hour on the hour. In order to gain back our headspace, he says, in which to dream and plan and think for ourselves we need to resist the urge to use our phone like a limb extension.
I can relate to this – I often conduct phone free walking meetings with my team and clients; it is refreshing to enjoy natural space outside, providing opportunities to think creatively in a way that the office does not always permit. It also energises the body and elevates the mood, I know that my body welcomes this physical boost!
Here’s why I’m not following Simon Cowell’s lead
It hasn’t been a difficult decision for me to decide that I won’t be following Simon Cowell’s lead in not having any engagement with my phone, as I fundamentally don’t believe it will make a difference to my happiness, and because it’s an important tool to conduct business. But I am going to put it on silent much more often and check it far less frequently, and I’ll see what impact that has.
Meanwhile if you’re attending one of my leadership workshops or one-to-one business coaching sessions I’ll invite you to join me in keeping our phones out of arms reach so we focus on the business in hand.
#smartphone #relationship with smartphone #how to break up with your phone