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4 tips to cut back on excessive phone use

By Robynn Garfield | Posted - Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 9:20am

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SALT LAKE CITY — Making it through a meal these days without someone grabbing a cell phone and making a call, sending a text, taking a picture, checking email, looking up something online, or participating in any other electronic errand is all but impossible. Cell phones have become a sort of appendage for most people and there is constant list of things that need tending to online.

It can become very similar to an addiction. Somehow there is always a justification for grabbing the phone and checking whatever is currently ‘on fire’ online, or sending that essential email, or checking that absolutely must-see Facebook status. For the millions of smart phone users out there, cutting down on screen time takes a conscious effort. The compulsory need to grab the the phone can be replaced by something else, reducing superflous screen time.

Replace phone time with book time

Back in the old days, many people carried a paperback wherever they went. Now, instead of cracking the spine on a Steinbeck, we read the top five reasons Miley Cyrus is crazy, or we check out what our friends are eating for lunch. With the advent of eReaders, though, it is possible to bring up a classic electronically and read a bit standing in line or while waiting for an oil change.

5 signs you may be addicted to video games
  • Disrupt in your regular schedule.
  • Loses job due to excessive gaming, still plays games
  • Short gaming spurts aren't enough, have to play for longer and longer.
  • Becomes irritable when not playing games.
  • Experiences gaming cravings when not playing

  • Taken from

Carrying an actual book around reminds us to open it. An eReader is convenient, but an actual paperback can bring us back to our roots and help to cut down on screen time. Try it for a week; wherever you go, take a small book with you. When the urge comes to go for the phone, open the book instead. Use an eReader if it’s available, but get intp the habit of reading substance over superfluity.

Make a list, check it twice

Make of a list of all the times when a phone really isn’t a necessity. When cell phones came about, the justification for their existence was found in their ability to help people in a crisis. Now we carry them everywhere. Sit down with your spouse or even a friend and make a list of places where phones really aren’t needed, and then leave the devices behind.

Need a few suggestions? Try leaving the phone behind when going out to dinner, going on a hike, having any sort of conversation with friends or family, at the dinner table, in line anywhere, while walking down the street, or while the kids are playing at the park. Make more moments; document fewer.

Park the phone while driving

For whatever reason, cars have become the place for phones. Even if the driver isn’t texting, he or she usually has the phone close by. Try putting the phone in the glove compartment before starting the car and make a point not to touch it until you reach your destination.

The new rallying cry against texting while driving states “it can wait”. This should include all the other distractions associated with smart phones and driving, including but not limited to: checking social media, making unnecessary phone calls and checking the weather. Hand the phone off to a passenger if some sort of communication needs to be made, but try limiting phone time in the car if at all possible.

Limit game time

There are hundreds of games available for smart phones. Every week a new one spikes in popularity and we all rush to beat our best scores. Game playing is a great way to unwind and do something a little mindless at the end of the day or when a short break is needed. Game playing for hours on end, though, is probably a little excessive.


Game playing can lead to actual addictions and these addictions can be hard to break. A recent CNN article outlined the dangers of game addictions based on the studies of Dr. Han Doug-hyun, from Chung-Ang University Hospital in Seoul, South Korea.

Dr. Han said there are a few things to watch for when playing games online. If the game playing disrupts normal life, or if the player feels depleted or sad when not playing a game, chances are there is some level of addiction involved.

The best way to get over an obsession with phone games is to go cold turkey. Delete the game and move on.

Limiting time on a cell phone can be hard. We’ve become accustomed to reaching for a phone anytime there’s a lull in anything. It is possible, though, to limit time spent on the phone so you can more fully interact in the world around you.

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