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Here’s Why You’re Addicted To Your Phone (And Tips For Powering Down)

Phones have become an inescapable part of modern life. They keep us constantly connected to the world around us, and we crave that connection. However, some scientists are worried we might crave it too much. Why are we so addicted to our phones? And how do we power down and disconnect once in a while?

An Automatic Response

Psychologist David Greenfield thinks that our dependence on our phones is triggered by an automatic response that we have developed to the device’s buzzing. Ever heard of Pavlov’s dog?

Pavlov’s Dog

Pavlov was a scientist who discovered that if he played a certain sound when calling his dog to a meal, the dog would start anticipating the food as soon as the sound was played. So what does that have to do with your phone?


When you hear your phone buzz, you anticipate the rush of a social interaction or piece of content. You do this so often that the sound itself has become a source of pleasure, as well as a distraction.

Phone Addicts

In fact, some scientists believe that people are getting addicted to their phones in the same way others may get addicted to alcohol or gambling.

Being Smart

Much like alcohol, smartphones are not dangerous when used in moderation. We should be careful of how much we let them take over our lives, but how?

Turn Off Notifications

The first thing you should probably do to power down is turn off your notifications. If you turn off the buzz, you turn off that Pavlovian response.

Change Your Settings

Say you’re a parent who doesn’t want to miss updates from your kids and turning off notifications isn’t an option. Just adjust your notification settings so that the buzz only comes through when it’s important or from certain people. On an iPhone, this can be done by going to “Settings” and adjusting the “Do Not Disturb” preferences.

An Old-Fashioned Alarm Clock

Get an alarm clock, or use your wristwatch as your alarm. If you rely on your phone to wake up, it’s likely that it’s the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night.

Phones Off The Table

Do you sometimes look up at the dinner table to see everyone absorbed on their screens? To make it fair, don’t allow phones at mealtimes for anyone, and leave them out of the room if possible.

Be Mindful

Lastly, try to be aware of the time you are spending on your phone. Try to catch yourself scrolling mindlessly through a feed. When you do, instead of continuing, put the phone down and go do something else.

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