Sunday, April 1, 2018

Texting Addiction - A Real Problem for Mental Health

Our all-too-common texting/messaging/checking addiction reminds me of Pavlov's Dogs. We might not salivate when we hear the *ding* of our phones, but like Pavlov's dogs, we anticipate a reward, which in turn drives us to check our messages.

Checking things (especially messages and notifications) is one of my OCD compulsions, so I have to be extra guarded against this loop because it can cause extreme anxiety.

Some of my solutions:

  1. Disabling all notifications! (Or at least sounds.) This includes texts, the Messenger app, my email, games, everything. If people REALLY need to reach me, they can call my phone.
  2. Making Facebook annoying to access on my smartphone. I can't quite block it, but I can remove my browser from my home screen and delete any bookmarks or "quick access" links related to Facebook. I also hacked my phone, deleted Google Chrome and downloaded an unbearably slow browser instead.
  3. FB Purity browser extension on desktop computer. I disable my newsfeed, pop-up notifications, ads, and anything that will set off that dopamine loop. If I want to know what someone's been up to, I go to their profile.
  4. Buying a flip phone as my main phone, and smartphone will be only for "free time." That way I can charge my smartphones in the other room overnight (having it next to my bed is a terrible idea)
My Facebook looks like this when I load it up...

Unsatisfying, right? But the idea behind it is to stop exhausting my brain's reward system. If I am really curious about something, I can search for it manually. It's much more rewarding that way, in my opinion, and much less overloading.

(I wish I could get rid of the notification badges on the top bar too, but the extension doesn't have that option unfortunately. 😞)

You can find the above video in my Mental Health Resources playlist on YouTube. I believe that managing smartphone addiction is important in improving one's mental health.

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