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Which would you go without for a week: your cell phone, your best friend, or good food? Chances are, it’s not your phone.

Half our waking life
College students appear to spend almost nine hours per day—more than half our waking hours—on our phones. That includes 1½ hours of texting.

Addictive brain chemistry
Phone notifications release dopamine, the same feel-good chemical triggered by eating sugar, having sex, and gambling. “We’re not really addicted to our cell phones per se but to the activities on our phones,” says Dr. James Roberts of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, who specializes in the psychology of consumer behavior.

Losing control while driving
Almost all of us agree that texting while driving is dangerous, yet three out of four have done it, according to AT&T’s It Can Wait survey (2014).

Worse grades & worse sleep
More than 80 percent of students acknowledge that their gadgets interfere with their learning, and one in four say this hurts their grades, according to a study published in the Journal of Media Education last year. In addition, phone use is a common sleep disruptor—and sleep disruption just makes everything horrible.

How to get your texting under control:

  1. Test yourself: Think you can get away with texting while driving? Maybe you’ve been lucky. That will change. Check out the online texting-while-driving simulator by AT&T. MORE.
  2. Set the mood: Know where your phone is welcome—and where it isn’t.
  3. Use an app or #x: AT&T’s DriveMode and Sprint’s Drive First silence your phone and respond to messages. Or text #x to let friends know you’re driving.
  4. Reality check: When you can measure something, you can manage it. Use an app like Moment (iPhone) or BreakFree (Android) to track how much time you’re spending on your phone. Try it, then see if you can resist texting about it. Or take the Smartphone Abuse Test.
  5. Play a game: When eating or getting together with friends, put all of your phones on silent in the middle of the table. Whoever checks their phone first has to pay for dinner or clean the dishes.
  6. Find your voice: Sometimes it’s hard to remember the last time we picked up a phone to call anyone besides relatives or the pizza guy. Next time you want to make plans or check in with a friend, try talking.

Set the mood

ActivityWhere to put the phoneMake it easier
DrivingIn the trunkAsk for a stand-alone GPS as a gift, buy one instead, or try Freecycle
Going to bedCharge it in a different roomDig out your old alarm clock
On a dateIn the carSuggest that your date do the same
On vacationLeave it in the hotelUse a digital or disposable camera
At the gymIn your lockerUse an mp3 player or iPod

 

The Art of Change


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Emily Payne is an editorial professional who recently graduated from Boston University with a BA in English. She’s an amateur health food expert and outdoor enthusiast.