Smartphone ‘detox’ easier done than said

Day 24 without a smartphone, and I’m pleased to report that I haven’t suffered any insomnia, nausea, cold sweats or muscle aches.

Not in relation to the phone anyway.

I sent my iPhone 4s in for repair over break and, due to a series of mishaps with FedEx and Apple, I haven’t seen it since. Not the end of the world, especially because most of that time I was on break. I didn’t feel an overwhelming need to check Twitter when I was sleeping until 1 p.m. and lying on the beach every day.

It’s been a little frustrating now that I’m back at school. How do I kill time waiting in line for food? Before class? In class? Hashtag first world problems.

FrontRange, a Silicon Valley-based company that develops computer software, created an infographic called “Unplugged: A Smartphone Detox.”

At first, I was put off by the terminology choices. For me, words like “detox” and “addiction” carry a sickening connotation. They conjure mental images of back alleys, cold sweats and dirty syringes. When I think of an addict, I think of Jared Leto in “Requiem for a Dream,” not the overdramatic daughter from “Modern Family.”

It turns out, though, that internet “addicts,” like nicotine addicts, are more likely to have an altered CHRNA4 gene. This changes a type of receptor in their brain, making them extra sensitive to the addictive “rewards” of using social media.

Furthermore, smartphones have mobilized Internet addiction. Addicts can get their fix anywhere anytime.

After surveying more than 800 smartphone owners around the world, FrontRange found that 66 percent of respondents said they couldn’t go a single day without their iPhone/Android/BlackBerry. (Do people still use BlackBerrys?) Forty-four percent said they could give it up for week if they were paid more than $100, while 19 percent said they’d need at least $500.

FrontRange challenged seven people to ditch their phones for seven days. How did they fair when deprived of a vice that is, in their minds, only slightly less addictive than heroin? The test subjects experienced varying levels of anxiety and annoyance, but never resorted to weeping and rocking in a fetal position.

The same goes for me, and it’s been three weeks. I haven’t missed my phone as much as I thought I would, which wasn’t much to begin with.

“That’s because no one wants to talk to you!” an internal voice that sounds a lot like my brother’s says sarcastically.

Probably true. Even so, I know a lot of people who would have thrown a fit by this point.

Is my indifference really a testament to my maturity? I doubt it. I wasn’t bothered because of my introversion – a fancy way of saying I like to spend my free time indulging in Netflix binges or reading “Tuesdays with Morrie” for the 10th time.

All in all, my smartphone addiction was an easy one to kick. I’ll still be thrilled to get it back, but the goal is to keep the dependence to a minimum from now on.



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