How to curb your phone usage this year

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If you feel uneasy about your tech habits, and want to become more intentional about how you use your phone this year, here are some strategies to help you take control:

Get a clear-eyed view of your current usage

As you gear up to make changes, first take stock of your current usage, and how it makes you feel in a big picture way.

Catherine Price, author of the book How To Break Up With Your Phone, suggested letting yourself get a bit philosophical about it.

“Every time you reach for your phone, ask yourself, ‘What for? Why now? What else?'” Price says.

What do you want to do on your phone? Are you responding to a message, reading the news, using a tool like Uber or a list-keeping app, or going on social media?

Phones can act as digital drugs that we use to seek pleasure, or to avoid discomfort and pain, Price said. Being aware of your own motives — as well as how tech products have been intentionally engineered to siphon as much of your attention as possible — may make a trivial observation (such as frittering away 10 minutes on Instagram) take on a new weight (like endlessly scrolling to avoid a hard task).

Along with that analysis, Price recommended creating a list of all the ways that you like using your phone, and all the usage behaviors that make you feel bad.

David Greenfield, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, advises that you start with an intense digital cleanse — try not to check social media for a whole day, for example — and then compare your typical experiences and emotions with those you felt during decreased usage.


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