Nowadays, with modern technology the way it is, it is very easy to fall into the temptation of checking your phone every 5 minutes. What happens if someone has texted? How many people have liked my recent Instagram picture? Who has commented on my Facebook post? But recent studies have shown that we are spending more and more time looking at screens and less and less time interacting with others around us. There is even a syndrome called FOMO: Fear of Missing Out, defined as ‘anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media’.
Coming up to exam season and coursework/dissertation deadline days, switching off is more important than ever. Phones are a distraction, a huge one, so here are my top tips for switching off:
- Go on your phone only as a reward. Do 1 hour of studying/revising/writing and reward yourself with 5 minutes on your phone. It’s a great way to focus on your work without the distractions, as well as giving yourself motivation to get some work done. Even better, go outside for 5 minutes; take a walk in Western park, sit in the sunshine (if there actually is any). But if you have to go on your phone, limit your time, be strict with yourself.
- A lot of phones nowadays have a do not disturb mode. This means if someone texts you, rings you or you get a notification, you will not hear a thing. It’s great for night time when you are trying to get to sleep, or when trying to concentrate on some work, as you won’t have the distraction of a pinging phone. And, if you are worried about what would happen if there was an emergency, there are settings you can change which means that if certain people ring you, there will be sound.
- Try to not look at your phone the last hour or two before you are planning on heading to bed. Studies have been done showing the artificial blue light stimulates your eyes and restrains melatonin production. The lack of this hormone makes it harder to fall asleep as well as stay asleep, as melatonin controls your sleep/wake cycle. Sleep is hard enough to get as a student, with late nights studying (or partying), exam stress etc., so try to do everything possible to get the best quantity and quality sleep you can.
- During exam season, find a trustworthy friend and give them the password for your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, whatever social media site you spend too much time on. Ask them to change the password and not tell you it, until a certain date after your deadlines have passed. This will eliminate any chance of wasting hours scrolling through these sites, as you won’t have access to them. You never know, you might not miss them as much as you think.
Don’t get me wrong, technology isn’t all bad. We can skype family abroad, message a friend who lives the other side of the world, find the answer to a question within seconds, the opportunities are endless. When used productively, a smart phone is a wonderful thing. But now more than ever, I feel like it’s important to take some time off from staring at our screens, interact with the people around you, get some work done and generally feel better and less reliant on your phone. Unfortunately young people nowadays have a stereotype of having eyes locked on screens and only being able to communicate in grunts. Why don’t we try and change that?