Do you find it impossible to sit on a bus or even watch TV without checking your phone?
Do you worry about missing out if you don’t check social media every few minutes?
These are all indications of digital addiction, a fast-growing problem in Malta that has been linked to stress, isolation and sleep issues.
1. Are you addicted?
Addiction doesn’t have to be a substance, it can be based in a behaviour.
If you want to stop getting that phone out but you can’t or ‘s extremely difficult and requires all your willpower, then you’re hooked.
2. How did you get hooked?
Addiction is tied up with stress, depression, fear, heartbreak, loneliness and boredom.
You may not realise it, as you reply to a message or count the ‘likes’ on your post, that the small sense of gratification you feel could tip you into addiction.
3. What should you do?
Are you supposed to spend the rest of your life free of digital devices? Of course not.
Taking control of your digital life means using it when you genuinely need or want to and putting your phone or tablet down happily once you’re done.
4. Forget fear of missing out
You might worry that living the rest of your life without your usual fixes will be boring.
But the truth is your addiction actually reduces your ability to derive pleasure from anything.
Once you’re back in control and you’re not turning to devices for emotional reasons, exposure to digital junk won’t be a problem.
5. No lies about screen use
Be honest about how much time you spend on screens.
Nearly everyone underestimates their daily phone usage and for digital addicts it can be by as much as half.
So if you think you spend 90 minutes on your phone each day, chances are it’s more like three hours.
6. Banish brainwashing
It’s easy to believe constant use of digital devices and apps is necessary if you want to keep up with modern life.
On top of that, your phone, email and social media have become how you connect with the world.
But when they become constant sources of intrusion, demanding attention every second, you have a problem.
The challenge, as with every addiction, is to reverse the brainwashing.
7. Remove all doubts
Take a moment to think about all the good things you stand to gain by overcoming digital addiction – self-respect, more time and energy, quality moments each day with your family.
The little boost you feel every time you reach for your phone is a mere hint of how you will feel all the time when you’re free.
Once you can see that digital junk does nothing positive for you, you’ll realise you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by quitting.
8. Pause and pay attention
When you go to look at your phone, pay attention to how you’re feeling and ask: ‘Do I really need to look at my phone now?
‘Will it give me satisfaction? What am I expecting to gain?’
Use this information when making your list of useful and junk apps, which will determine what you keep and what you get rid of.
9. Enjoy a happy hour
‘Happy hour’ is the 60 minutes before you go to sleep, which should be spent doing other things than looking at screens.
It will make you happy because it enables you to get a good night’s sleep.
The blue light emitted by screens fools your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, which suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin.
If you spend the time before you go to bed staring at your phone, your brain won’t be ready for sleep and you’ll have a restless night.
Observing happy hour will make a big difference to your mental and physical well-being.
10. Get a watch
How many times do you check your phone simply to learn the time?
Go old school and get a watch.
It’s a great way to avoid looking unnecessarily at your phone.
Now you’re ready!
These practical instructions can help you escape digital addiction.
Follow them with an open mind and you will make your digital experience an altogether more peaceful, relaxed and fulfilling one.