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In the 21st Century, we have no choice but to confront the ever-growing role that smartphones play in our lives. Most of us start our day by looking at the phone, in many cases before we brush our pearly whites. If you think about it, it’s hard not to look at your android or iPhone first thing; after all your home or lock screen has a plastering of notifications, i.e., texts, emails, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and “the news.” These are machines that are designed to grab your attention, and sometimes that’s not so bad; however, most of the notification alerts we receive pale in importance to things happening in our sphere of existence.

Smartphones are not inherently dangerous for you. In many situations, iPhones are exceptionally beneficial to your life. Aided by tech, we are able to organize our days and weeks; they help us keep track of our responsibilities and make it easier to stay accountable. Anyone working a program of addiction recovery can agree that responsibility and accountability are critical components. If you are in recovery, then you know that neglecting your obligations and answering only to yourself isn’t beneficial to any program. With that in mind, your phone can serve as a useful tool to progress, if you say you are going to be somewhere your phone helps you not forget. Which is good, right?

There is a flipside to smartphones in recovery, sure they help you stay on task, and there are apps that can aid recovery, but they also serve as a distraction. Your cell phone is at least equal parts tool and escape; when it isn’t guiding you to a new meeting, it serves as an excuse not to engage your peers. The above reality isn’t a problem that only affects people in recovery; your average American spends an inordinate amount of time staring at the black mirror; in some cases, people interact more with their phone than with their peers. Who among us has not gone to dinner and seen whole families with eyes affixed to their devices?

We cannot say what is good or bad for other people, if staying glued to your phone is good for someone that is their prerogative. Even though there is a growing body of evidence showing the habit-forming potential of specific technology, it is up to individuals to decide if the impact their device has on their life is unhealthy. In respect to recovery, smartphone dependence is a topic worth exploring; consider how many people you’ve seen at meetings staring at their phone as opposed to sharing. Regarding phone use at meetings, again it is their life, their program, their recovery. It isn’t up to anyone else to inventory such behaviors. On the other hand, if you acknowledge that it is up to people with time to set examples for newcomers, then we must face the impact that devices can have on people—particularly young people.


Smartphone Addiction Safeguards

addictionMost of you know that Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, California, is the cradle of internet technology. Apple and Google, the two leading smartphone manufacturers in the U.S., have headquarters in the Bay Area. The two companies pluck many of the young people working for them from Stanford University’s computer science department. While most of those students are concerned more with landing an attractive, high paying job upon graduation, there is a group of seniors who are urging Apple to provide their customers smartphone addiction safeguards, Business Insider reports. While options for dumbing down one’s smartphone are probably right for everyone, if Apple acts upon the student’s wishes it could also help people in addiction recovery.

“Especially in social situations we find that like when you’re around the dinner table or when you’re just chilling with your friends,” said Sanjay Kannan, of Stanford Students Against Addictive Devices. “People are just always perpetually on their phones and they just won’t participate in the social situation.” 

The young adults who comprise the organization do not appear to be Luddites, just observant. Kannan, along with Evan Sabri Eyuboglu, Divyahans Gupta, and Cameron Ramos, asks companies like Apple to create a button like “airplane mode” that would limit how often your phone begs for your attention.

“Our idea with essential mode was to have Apple give their users the option to use their phone in simpler ways,” said Eyuboglu. “The idea is that just like alongside airplane mode and low-power mode, you have an essential mode. So with a flick of a switch on the phone, you’d be able to shut down a lot of those distracting bumps on the phone and bring it down just to the essentials, like calls, texts, photos, and say, maps.”


What You Can Do Now

After reading this post, you might have come to realize that your smartphone could be negatively impacting your program. Maybe you stare at your phone when you are in the presence of other people, some of whom are in the program with you. If your phone is continuously dinging and pinging, distracting you from people who are paramount to your recovery, then leaving your phone in the car, shutting it off, or turning off push notifications will diminish the invasive nature of your device. Making small changes can help you foster a better relationship with your peers and your “higher power.”

If  you or a loved one struggle with addiction, please contact Hope by the Sea. We offer several unique programs that can assist you in learning how to live a productive life in recovery.