Recently I was doing some shopping in a supermarket. Suddenly I heard a loud wailing cry. I guessed it must be that of a toddler. I turned around curiously. The child was throwing a tantrum pointing to an item on the shelf. Apparently, the packet of chips and chocolate he was already holding didn’t satisfy him. The mother appeared certain she didn’t want to buy another item for him. The wailing continued. Impatient to resolve the issue, she did something magical – she handed over her smartphone to the toddler. In an instant there was calm. It was as if a spell had been cast.
The crying face instantly changed to one of joy and there was a squeaky giggle. The toddler was only too happy to let go of his demand. He began flipping the smartphone screen and tapping his little fingers on it with the expression of delight and wonder. In the meantime, the mother heaving a sigh of relief continued her remaining shopping in peace. As I reached home, I wondered about the uphill task the mother would face taking away the smartphone from the hands of her child. And more importantly about the role, smartphones would play in his life.
It is not only toddlers that we pacify with smartphones. Often we yield to pressure from children and teenagers too, who are only too happy to sit and sift through smartphone screens as they delight in the bouts of micro entertainment it offers them. They can go on and on if not interrupted. And we know that as adults, we are guilty too. Early in the morning, as we open our eyes, many of us scramble for our smartphones. And our heart skips a beat if we do not find it where we expect it to be. Smartphones have become our recourse for information, entertainment and everything else. It has started to impede with physical activity, outings and trips with real-life friends thereby thwarting our capacity to develop deep and meaningful conversations with our near and dear ones.
The field of Mental Health is rife with research reports about the harmful effects of “smartphone addiction”. Science suggests that it is a chemical called dopamine that is the culprit. Dopamine controls the “pleasure” systems of the brain thereby motivating us to seek out certain behaviours which eventually becomes a behaviour-loop – an example is the smartphone trap.
Therefore, we are all better advised to reduce the time spent on spent on smartphones for the sake of ourselves and our children. While it is easier said than done, there is always some small step that can be taken to free ourselves and our children from addiction and its harmful effects which can improve your overall sense of wellness. Here are some:
1. Immerse in Nature: Decide that you will wake up to watch a beautiful sunrise, a soft garden patch or listen to the chirping birds. If nothing else just close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and listen to your own mind. Dedicate the early time of your precious mornings to being with yourself rather than spending it with a smartphone. This one activity can set the course for an amazing day.
2. Eat mindfully: Enjoy your meal without concurrently consulting your smartphone to find who did what, when, where and how, while mindlessly shovelling morsels of life-sustaining food into the mouth. To truly honour our food means, to be grateful to the ones because of whom it has reached our plates, to be totally present and available to it and to feel the taste, texture and flavours as we eat.
3. Plan for high-quality rest: When it’s time to go to bed, make sure your smartphone is at a safe distance away from your hands. For some people, smartphones accompany them to bed, and they tend to text till the moment they feel really sleepy. You owe it to your tired body and mind to give both an uninterrupted snooze time. This helps our brain to heal and rejuvenate. Today night’s restful sleep is tomorrow’s energy and productivity. So build your strength through healthy sleeping.
If we make a little effort consciously day by day, we will surely be able to arrive at a balance in using our smartphones. So go ahead and practice smart detachment from your smartphones today. And do share your tips for smart-detachment from smartphones