60 Minutes Brain Hacking: Smartphone Addiction- Retrain Your Brain

Smartphones: The Newest Drug

If you or someone you know or love just can’t put that phone down — there’s good reason. 60 Minutes journalist Anderson Cooper ran a great story on why you’re addicted to your smartphone. The link is at the end of this story. If you need to watch it now, go ahead, just bookmark this page and come back because, as Tech Wellness coach and advocate, I’ve done the research and have worked on Tech Wellness for 20 years.  Part of that is gaining power over my cellphone and I’ve got some great ideas to share.

Addiction By Design

Turns out, tech addiction is on purpose (!) Oh my, really? Yep, apps, sites – even Google – are designed to engage you and keep you engaged. It’s commerce after all. Tristan Harris, formerly of Google, had this observation,

“Never before in history have a handful of people at a handful of technology companies shaped how a billion people think and feel everyday with the choices they make about these screens”

Harris wanted parents to know that tech addiction isn’t so innocent. I think most moms and dads know this. Heck, to be real, most of us adults feel the same way. Haven’t we all experienced, maybe even just a tad bit, the loneliness, depression and anxiety that studies show, can be caused by our use of the various types”screens”?

Dopamine, Baby. Everybody Wants It

And the “feel good” neurotransmitter is released when pick up our smartphone to see that we got “10 likes” in the last ten minutes on the picture we posted. Yeah, the one that took us 20 minutes to take, filter, edit and write about. BUT, we don’t always get feel good neurotransmitters.

Dr. Larry Rosen, a psychologist from Cal State Dominguez Hills, showed research demonstrating that when we put our phones down, our brains trigger our adrenal glands to produce bursts of cortisol, the fight or flight hormone. That causes anxiety. It’s why after we’ve spent say an average of about 15 minutes away from our smartphone, we feel the need to grab our phones to reduce the anxiety. Depressing, right?

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can fight what programmers call “brain hacking” by taking control and still enjoy all the good things that “measured” use of our smartphones can bring us.

10 Easy Ways to Overpower Your Addiction:

1. Quick, grab that smartphone and remove ONE app.

Yes, I really said that. Take control over the “manipulated engagement” an app may be exercising over you. One important engagement tactic is the “game-i-fication” of apps that’s contributing to addiction. My fabulous nephew was just showing me one of these “games” last week: He showed me how Snapchat let’s you “direct-snap” a friend — You go back and forth snapping each other and you create a “streak” between the two of you. It becomes a contest you can become obsessed with and don’t want to break. He showed me how one of his snap streaks was over 300! See? A fun “game” and a dopamine rush!

One of Insta’s tricks is to “feed” you a bunch of likes all at once, so you get this big “They like me, they really really like me” rush. Yep, it’s dopamine and you want more. And Facebook, that “continuous scroll” keeps you engaged till you find something you want to read. Even Google and Linkedin are engaging. They have to be. Otherwise you won’t stay there or come back. There’s SO much to see and do, It’s downright, well, addicting. So, right now, try it, remove one. One that you know you’re using all together too much and that’s not really adding to that amazing, full, meaningful life of yours, or your kids. It can’t be that tough. Think about it – even the Kardashian’s did it!

2. No smartphones in the bedroom . . .

BUT how will you wake up? (gasp!) I use a simple old fashioned battery alarm clock–with an optional light so I can sleep in total darkness. Sans blue light for optimal melatonin production. In fact, if you’re using a screen less than 2 hours before bed, you should be using a “Night Shift” function or wearing orange glasses. (1)

3. No device dinners:

Great real life connections: No device dates = romance?! Well, at least the opportunity to talk! Try it – park your phones or devices in a basket and let the conversation begin. And the distractions melt away. A McDonalds’ location in Singapore is taking a stab at trying to create more device free environment by providing lockers to temporarily lock your phone so that you can enjoy your meal with the people your with. Try out this fun idea, first one who touches the phone stack has to do the dishes or pay the dinner bill! (That’ll do the trick!)

4. Drop devices from your exercise routine

OR if you love to exercise to sounds, turn your device on airplane and just listen to downloads, podcasts and more. Tech wellness is especially important when it comes to kids who really need to be protected from emf radiation. But for you too! Get in the practice downloading stuff ahead of time to safely listen (wifi-free!) in moving vessels like  cars and planes. All of that boomeranging EMF energy isn’t good for you and you’ll be set up with entertaining material for you and the kids when we don’t have internet connectivity or much battery life!!

5. Turn wifi on only when. . .

you absolutely need it. Try it and you’ll discover you’ll be more mindful about when you really need to access the internet. Really need to check FB or insta? This give you a bit of pause to think about it. Bonus: No WIFI = No EMF radiation! It’s best to not get super-close to the router to keep toggling it on/off. Use a remote switch to do so, safely and at a distance. I love this one.

WiFi Turn off Remote Switch

6. Pen to Paper.

This is so fun. Good therapy for your brain, your focus and organization — and your handwriting skills. Try it. Keep a pad handy in your bag or pocket and instead of whipping out your phone during class, seminars, church or meetings, take notes on paper. And you’ll get better recall. Experts say we remember things we write, more readily than we type. Try this with even simple things like your shopping lists. It feels good to physically cross stuff off lists — so satisfying.


I know this is NOT a pen. It’s a very cool stylus that I use with my phone. Available in the safetech shop!

7. 15 minutes of mindfulness per day

without a phone or computer within eye-shot or earshot. Deep Breaths in, deep exhale out. Again . . .. ahhhhhhh. Hold for four second on the inhale and exhale. (it’s harder than you’d think!) You’ll be more focused and relaxed. Taking a yoga, Pilates or mediation class is great for breath work — but this will work for now for the mind/body connection.

8. Set a Social Media schedule.

If you need to Tweet, or FB, chat or Insta daily, then set a time and stick to it. After lunch for 15 minutes . . . and then, here’s the hard part — that’s it. You can use also use an app like Calendly that pre-schedules your social media ahead of time and shows you what the layout would look like. Feeling even more powerful? Try getting down to a bi-weekly schedule. I can’t believe I’m down to a weekly visit to FB. I allot an hour a week to stay in touch or you can take the app off of your phone (Facebook messenger, too — which is known to breach privacy.) This results in more time everyday to be productive…and actually enjoy this gorgeous world and the fabulous people and things in it.

9. Everyday–no matter where you are in this big universe

– take 5 minutes to feel your feet on the ground. Phone off or in airplane mode! “Grounding” is a now trendy centering practice, but doing it whilst on your phone defeats the purpose. Walking on wet sand on the beach at sunset feels great, but the effects of grounding are the same with grass or plain old dirt! It’s SO EASY to forget our connection with Mother Earth when we’re wearing shoes running around all day or stuck in an office. Grounders believe the earth’s energy resets our bodies and absorbs negative energy. For total Tech Wellness, schedule a camping trip or a beach day at one of these tech-free zones. No phones allowed! Just you, your loved one and the great outdoors!!

10. KNOW – without a doubt – YOU are stronger, smarter and more powerful than a smartphone..

Let the smartphone work for you. You shouldn’t work for it. If you’re distracted by notifications from pleasure-social or work-social apps: Turn them OFF. If you want to stop what you’re doing and take a phone call, do. If the person you’re with or thing you’re doing is more important. Don’t answer. Check your voicemail later and call back on your schedule(obviously Mom’s, you’re at the kids beckon call — but sometimes you’re not) Recognize when. You don’t actually have to respond anytime your phone rings, vibrates or flashes. It’s up to you. Because you ARE smarter than a smartphone.

TBH, Honestly, if I can do it(and get my kids to) you can do it too! Let’s detox and be stronger than our smartphones today!

Here’s to Tech Wellness!

XO August

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