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Breaking Free From my Smartphone

By Aaron Tanner

· smartphone,reading,books,coloring,Overstimulation

I will admit, like a lot of young Americans, I spend a lot of time on my smartphone. Too much time, in fact. I often find myself wasting time on sites such as YouTube, Reddit, and Facebook as well as checking my email a few times a day.

According to an article by Psychology Today, those on the Autism spectrum are especially vulnerable too prolonged exposure to electronic screens. The findings from the study show that those with Autism and Aspergers who spend an extraordinary amount of time on a screen leads to increased anxiety, poorer social coping skills, overstimulation that can lead to sensory overload and issues with sleep.

One of the ways I am attempting to work on my anxiety issues is to spend less time on my smartphone. To be honest, I’m tired of being chained to my smartphone.

At work, I try hard to catch myself when I whip out my phone as that cuts down on workplace productivity. Due to my deficiencies in multi-tasking, I cannot walk and text at the same time.

Before I got my smartphone, I enjoyed reading books. I am trying to get into the habit of reading more books. One of my favorite authors, Tim Hollis, said something that stuck with me that “not all readers are writers but all writers are readers.” If I want to improve my writing, I need to read more books and spend less time on Facebook.

Recently, I bought several books from McKay Books in Chattanooga, Tennessee to help me start my new habit. Also, one of my friend’s parents let me borrow his series of books form the Century War Series that has first-hand accounts of people who fought in the American Civil War. I learned things about the Civil War I never knew about, such as Missouri nearly joining the Confederacy, the surprise of many Americans that a civil war would happen in the first place or how many of the battles were poorly executed.

Another way I am trying to cut down on screen time when I want to turn my brain off is using adult coloring books to de-stress. The complex designs in these books help me to get my mind off the business of the day by coloring. Sometimes I will color while listening to relaxing music before going to bed.

Speaking of bedtime, I am trying hard to avoid looking at my phone an hour before I go to sleep as the blue light from the screen can deplete serotonin, which can make it harder to fall asleep. Instead of using my phone as an alarm clock, I have a traditional alarm clock on my bed to wake me up.

Some people use their phones as a calendar. I prefer using a traditional paper day planner to keep up with events so in case something happens to my phone, I can remember appointments without being so dependent on my phone.

In my opinion, I would not recommend those who have not graduated from high school and younger having a smartphone due to the decreased ability to be self-disciplined when it comes to monitoring time spent on the device. Also, there is also the threat of cyberbullying.

Instead, encourage your child with Aspergers to read or work on an art project instead of screen time if they are exhibiting signs of anxiousness. An article from the British periodical the Mirror discusses how reading text in books on paper vs. on a smartphone or Kindle shows that those who read the text in books could concentrate and understand the subject better than those who read text on the screen in which the reader only got bits and pieces of the information presented.

Like many Americans, it will be a challenge not to be so dependent on my smartphone. As I develop my new habit, I hope it will become second nature to pick up a book. A good story is better than the latest gossip on Facebook or text.

What are you doing not to be so dependent on your smartphone? Comment in the section below.

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