5 Ways to Tell If Your Cell Phone Is Taking Over Your Life

Take action before your smartphone gets its own pet name.

Woman with Phone
Photo: Manuel Breva Colmeiro/Getty Images

Ah, life was so much simpler in the days of the rotary phone. Nowadays, so many of us are tethered to our smartphones like an extension to our own arms. Below, five indicators you're spending too much time on your phone.

1. You text or call someone in the next room.

Let's remember that two heels are better than a set of emojis.

2. You keep refreshing your email.

Aimlessly scrolling to refresh your inbox isn't going to make that note you've been waiting for come through any faster. Instead, lace up your sneaks and take a walk for some fresh air, cook, paint, pick up a book, you name it.

3. You pick up your phone a few seconds after you put it down.

Wait, why did you pick up your phone again? To check the weather? To text a friend back? To look up directions on Google Maps? Oh, your intention was to idle your afternoon away on Instagram for fifty minutes, but of course.

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4. Others comment on your phone use.

All scroll and no play makes Jane a dull girl. (Speaking of which, meals can be especially dull when everyone is on his or her phone. Here's some tips for electronics at the dinner table.) Take others' words as a sign that a phone detox may be merited. You can do it. Ahem, half the dinner table can do it.

5. Your "Screentime" or "Digital Wellbeing" results make you duck your head in shame.

What's that, nine hours out of your life a week on the YouTube app, you say? 173 phone pickups since Tuesday? 83 notifications a day? No more. Apple's Screentime and Android's Digital Wellbeing tools can help you see how much time you spend interacting with your phone and adjust accordingly. Use them as a motivator, not an impetus to feel down. We'll start by rereading this article beyond the cradle of our palm.

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