Taking a Closer Look at Your Relationship with Your Phone

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Taking a Closer Look at Your Relationship with Your Phone

By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

People holding cell phones
Photo: Terinajasug0/flickr


Who do you choose to interact with most? For many of us, the answer is not a person, but rather their phone. As with any relationship, this very important one can both enhance and diminish your life.

On the positive side, your phone can always be there to:

Engage you: Look around and you will see people occupying themselves all the time with their phones, whether they are looking up information, connecting with a friend, watching videos, or playing games.

Be informative: Your phone is, of course, an amazingly powerful tool for learning new information, as complicated as quantum physics or as simple as finding out which actor was the voice for Duke Caboom in Toy Story 4.

Help you to remain connected with friends and family: Phones allow you to connect with others in a variety of ways – voice calls, FaceTime, texting, or messaging apps.

Help you to meet new people from anywhere in the world: Whether looking at news items and offering comments, or getting involved in online groups, you can connect with people from all over the globe, learning about their experiences, opinions, cultures, and values.

Offer comfortable, even comforting, companionship: Whenever you are feeling emotional – whether bored, sad, anxious, or overwhelmed, your phone can offer distractions and comfort, depending on how you choose to engage with it.  While these are all genuine benefits, your phone can also detract from your life.

On the negative side, your relationship with your phone might:

Distract you from activities in the non-virtual world: It is incredibly easy to get pulled into the constant activity on your phone, distancing you from the pleasures of the non-virtual world. For this reason, although taking a break from you phone can require discipline, it is important to do this and regularly reconnect with your real-life enjoyments, such as walking in nature, playing sports, baking, or playing the guitar.

Interfere with your relationships with other people: By remaining engaged in all that your phone can do, you might not reach out to other people as much. Time can fly by as you play games or indulge in YouTube. If you make a habit of this, your relationships can suffer.

Limit the quality of your connections: Connecting over the phone – even with video – does not provide the same sense of closeness as meeting in person. Keep in mind that a text is not as intimate as a phone call, which is not as intimate as getting together in person. For instance, think about the warmth of hugging a friend or the comfort or excitement of being physically affectionate with your partner.

Keep you up at night: It’s relatively common for people to get so involved in their phone that they stay up later. Also, the blue light emitted by your phone – as you look at it at night – stimulates your brain in a way that can make it harder to fall asleep.

Use your awareness of the benefits and drawbacks of your phone to guide your use of it. Phones can enhance our lives in many ways, but it can easily become too much of a good thing.

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