How-To Take a Break from Your Phone

While many students and professionals are tethered to their mobile phones, the reasons to take a break from device dependence are numerous. Consistently checking a cell phone can interfere with face-to-face conversation, potentially hindering one’s enjoyment of their surroundings or even a relationship. From a health and safety perspective, doctors warn of “tech neck” and examples unfortunately abound of distracted driving accidents involving cell phones. Despite the numerous benefits mobile devices may bring to our lives, if you want to decrease your dependence, try the following:

  • Photo of cell phoneIdentify “no phone zones.” For instance, these could be the front seat of your car, your bed, or the dinner table.  
  • Create some literal distance between yourself and your phone. Carry it in your bag instead of your hand when walking across campus or going to a meeting. Keep it in your backseat while driving.
  • Set time limits for using your phone at leisure. Infinite scroll or games with seemingly endless levels are created to keep you engaged, and it becomes easier to lose track of time when there is never a sense of being caught up or finished.  
  • Consider deleting apps that are particularly addictive or time-gobblers. If you want to check something, you can always go to the trouble of reinstalling the app, but it requires a bit of extra effort.  
  • Disable notifications. It’s satisfying to know that someone shared your post or that a contact has posted a photo, but ultimately badge icons and banner notifications offer little utility beyond prompting you to check an app. 

When you have set limits for yourself talk about them using declarative sentences: “I don’t check my phone before I’ve brushed my teeth in the morning,” not “I can’t check my phone before I’ve brushed my teeth in the morning.” “Don’t” indicates you have the power and are choosing not to do something. “Can’t” infers someone else is telling us what to do, which is devaluing and counterproductive. 


Alter, A. (2017). Irresistible: The rise of addictive technology and the business of keeping us hooked. New York: Penguin Press. 

Booth, F. (2015, February 13). How to break the habit of just checking your smartphone yet again. Available from 

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