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Take control of your phone – three digital hygiene tips

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Facebook, Instagram, e-mails, Twitter, phone calls, texts or new promotions in the Uber Eats app – the list of mobile phone notifications can be as long as the number of applications installed on our phone. All these notifications make it harder for us to focus, lower work efficiency, and interrupt our resting time again and again. It is extremely difficult to take care of digital hygiene in the era of smartphones, but it is not impossible.

Limit the number of notifications

Undoubtedly, ‘push’ notifications are the greatest distraction. They are well known to all smartphone owners, i.e. probably 95% of the population. The time spent in an application is today’s bargaining chip in valuation of a tech startup or directly translates into sales. That is why all app developers do their best to make sure that we visit their product as often as possible. Fortunately, we can still defend ourselves if we only find strength and motivation. You just need to delve into the settings of your phone or application.

However, we must be aware that disabling notifications (although it may help) will never fully eliminate the problem if we are not consistent in our resolutions. What will we get from disabling notifications when it’s our habit to nervously refresh social media feeds every 5 minutes and the phone is constantly in our hand?

One of the major revolutions in my case was muting Messenger notifications, which, for a good reason, sounds the same to all 1.5 billion users on the planet. Thanks to this, whenever I hear the characteristic ringtone of the Facebook communicator, I no longer nervously reach into my pocket for the phone to check if the message is for me.

Set the boundaries of using the application

The first step is to check whether our phone has the ability to monitor the working time in individual applications and block them when the set limit is exceeded. If we find that we spend too much time on social media applications or games, we can always set a time limit, after which the application will be blocked and you can use it again the next day (the phone will work normally). This option allows us to set different limits for specific applications on individual days. Thus, e.g. during the weekend, we can allow ourselves more freedom or, on the contrary, develop the habit of not looking into the digital world too often, in order to spend more time outdoors or with family.

The second way to limit the use of a mobile phone are applications such as Screen Time (native Apple iOS application), Digital Wellbeing (Google application for Android) or QualityTime, which allow you to manage the time spent with the smartphone screen on during the day. Thanks to this clever solution, we become more mindful about the time we spend with a given application, by setting the daily limit to e.g. one hour a day. Of course, the system also has its weakness: the limit can be increased at any time. These applications can also be used for parental control, monitoring how much time our children spend using mobile phones.

The big advantage of this type of tool is taking control of how much time we spend in specific applications during the day, week and month. From my perspective, the most useful function seems to be setting the hours when we cannot use the phone, which allows us to eliminate bad habits, e.g. browsing social media while working, or falling asleep with the phone and waking up with it. It’s best not to use devices with displays right before going to bed, because of the blue light band that sends a false signal to our brain that the sun is still shining when it’s actually time to go to bed.

An interesting way to limit unproductive staring at the phone screen can also be using the Forest application. In short, the green app will allow you to grow a handsome tree and, in the long run, a whole forest, as long as you don’t use your phone. An additional motivation for every grower is the fact that the company behind the tool spends part of its profits on planting real trees in sub-Saharan Africa, along with Trees for the Future. Addictive!

Try a dopamine detox from social media

For some time now, the concept of “dopamine detox” has been popular on the Internet. The role of this detox is to make us rediscover little pleasures in life. The use of social media and apps affects the production of dopamine in the body. This is due to complex notification and response mechanisms. Interestingly, the systematic use of an application may even lead to impairment of the nervous system, resulting from constant stimulation.

Dopamine is responsible for shaping our memory, expectations, emotions and reactions related to the reward system. Too high concentration of dopamine results in greater brain stimulation and may lead to lower motivation and expectations.

Dopamine fasting is to encourage people to devote more time and energy to important issues or loved ones. As it often is the case with the human brain, the matter is much more complicated. Our motivation is influenced by much more than just dopamine reduction. However, this is one of those factors that we have some influence on, and social media creators like Sean Parker (co-founder of Facebook) warn against it. Thus, it’s worth trying to limit brain stimulation designed solely to make us click more. In this way, we will regain a little attention and improve the quality of life and relations with technology.


You’re in charge here!

We must all agree that cell phones have, by force or by storm, entered our daily activities. Of course, you must not forget how they made our lives easier, but at the same time you must be aware of how much valuable time they are taking away. It is often difficult to determine whether it is a person who controls the smartphone or vice versa.

Bearing in mind that application design is often done by behaviorists who try to steal our attention at all costs, self-control, supported by various restrictions and tools, is very necessary. From my perspective, I can say that the less thoughtlessly I click on my phone screen, the better I feel. I recommend it to anyone looking for peace in a world that seems to be rushing without giving a second to reflect.


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