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LoveYourBrain Tip: Disconnect From Your Phone!

DISCONNECT FROM YOUR PHONE!

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BRAIN HEALTH | 2.1.2016 | BY DAYA ALEXANDER GRANT, PH.D., M.S.

loveyourbrain

Chances are the vast majority of you are reading this tip on your smartphone.  It’s wonderful to have so much information at our fingertips, but most of us are unaware of how much time we spend on our phones.   For many, it’s a TBI that forces us to slow down and disconnect from our phones because our brain just cannot process the constant stream of information.  This information age is propelling the world forward in numerous ways, but it is also dramatically altering our brain, our life, and our sense of connection to the world around us.  Recent studies have suggested that U.S. adults spend 4.7 hours per day staring at their phones.  Considering we’re only awake approximately 15 hours per day, that’s nearly 33% of our waking day!

It may be time to ask yourself some hard questions:  Do you reach for your phone at even the briefest pause in “action” during your day?  Do you spend more time checking email in the morning than eating breakfast?  How often do you observe the world around you versus burying your nose in your phone?

Social science research has demonstrated that this constant information overload has decreased our ability to concentrate.  While it’s utterly hypocritical, there are some great apps that can helps us disconnect from our phones.   One app is called Forest, which rewards you for disconnecting from your phone for 30 minutes.  It takes 30 uninterrupted minutes to “grow a tree” on the app.  If, during those 30 minutes, you use your phone to check Facebook or read a text, your tree dies.  It’s a simple concept, but it just may help you remain focused for short segments of time.    

The goal is not necessarily to abandon our smartphones entirely.  Rather, we should aim to be more cognizant of our cell phone usage and determine whether we have control over our phones, or if they control us.