"Hello, my name is Paulina, and I am a certified Apps Addict."
You heard that right. I am addicted to mobile apps. Forget about Alcoholics Anonymous. In the era of the smartphone and the mobile app, most people seem better off attending App-holics Anonymous meetings. According to one report, 83% of people who have a smartphone feel “addicted” to the apps on their mobile devices. And it’s impossible not to! If you can think of anything you need to do, there’s an app to help you do it. Just think of a task and the engineers will build an app for it. If you have a smartphone, the possibilities are endless.
When I’m commuting to work or waiting for an appointment, gaming apps keep me entertained. Whenever I encounter a difficult word somewhere when I’m on the go, I trust my pocket version of Merriam Webster’s Dictionary to give me a definition. Dying to try a new restaurant? Wait, there are probably some reviews for it on the Trip Advisor app! If I happen to be hanging out with a group and I see something nice, I’m always the first to whip out my smartphone and Instagram it. But not before I add pretty filters to the photo using the Afterlight editing app or resize it using the Instasize app.
Don’t even get me started on taking photos of my food! Eating out at a restaurant almost feels like it didn’t happen if I wasn’t able to take a snapshot of the dish with InstaFood.
What’s worse is that ever since i’ve downloaded the Facebook and Facebook messenger apps onto my iPhone, I check the site almost anytime that little red “notification” sign pops up. Waking up at 3 A.M for a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night, my smartphone goes with me. Sometimes I unlock the touchscreen and flip through pages of apps before I even know what i’m looking for.
I know I have an addiction, and it takes away from my quality of life. Sometimes I wish I could just spend one day without looking at a screen, but I constantly find myself seduced by “cool” and “useful” new apps.
"Addiction" is defined as "the state of being enslaved to a habit to such an extent that its cessation causes severe anxiety." Apps can become addictive because we learn to depend on them for so much. Whether for socialization, education, cooking, travel directions, or even "time management", ironically, apps have infiltrated a large part of our life and there seems to be no end to it.
Research consultant firm Latitude in partnership with MTV networks surveyed 1,300 people and found out that up to 77% of them agree that apps serve as their “personal assistant.”
The “usefulness” of certain apps make them almost impossible to get rid of once you’ve started them. Of course, just like there are plenty of useful apps out there, there are also completely useless apps that only function to waste your time. You know what they are. (Ever heard of the Tap That app for Android phones? If you haven’t don’t even bother looking it up.)
If you’re anything at all like me, or like most of the world’s smartphone-carrying population, you’re somehow trying to lessen your addiction to apps. Well, now there’s even an app for that. The app called “Pause” developed by Polidea aims to reduce our dependency on apps. It uses the Airplane Mode of your phone to keep you offline for a set amount of time, and it even features a leader board where you can compete with friends to compare the amount of time you spend using your smartphone. The “Pause” app can help you disconnect from the digital world for a while so you can focus on something real. Too bad I’m not really planning to download it….
Putting an End to the Addiction
Experts suggest that you can manage your use of apps and smartphones in the following ways:
Be conscious of the situations that trigger you to check your phone. Are you just bored? Anxious? Maybe you’re better off looking to something in real life to soothe yourself.
Avoid temptation by turning off the “push notifications” or “alert signals” for unessential applications. Do you really need Plants vs. Zombies 2 constantly remind you that there’s a Yeti Zombie waiting to be defeated?
It’s all about self-discipline. Set a time for yourself where you won’t use your apps unless it’s absolutely important. After a few days of self-discipline, you’ll start to notice that you can concentrate better and feel more relaxed.
Your cell phone is not your extra limb. You can leave it at home without suffering from a hemorrhage. (This is something I need to tell myself from now on.)