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Tips for Keeping your Smartphone from Ruling Your Life

The smartphone is perhaps the most important technological innovation of the century thus far. At least in terms of sheer popular use, phones like the iPhone, the Droid, or the Blackberry have single-handedly changed the way we communicate, the way we do business, and even the way we find restaurants and bars.

Despite the immense convenience that smartphones have added to our lives, this convenience, as with all technological convenience, comes at a cost. Who has not experienced the connnectivity neuroticism that arises from having a mobile device in which the world at large is at your fingertips at all times? Whether it's checking Facebook, Twitter, email, or even the news, we have a constant desire to be connected with the larger and more fluid social networks that the Internet enables.

But as most of us are doubtlessly aware, having your Smartphone on you can be both a boon and a curse. And it's a curse especially when it impairs our ability to focus on what's in front of our faces--whether it be our spouses, friends, or even the road. Here are some tips for keeping that smartphone from taking over everything.

  1. This may be tough, but if it isn't absolutely necessary to carry your phone with you at all times, then leave it at home when you go out with friends. What if there's an emergency, you ask? Well, people used to go out all the time before smartphones existed, and we can't really say that we live in a less safe world now than we did ten or fifteen years ago. If you can't cut the umbilical cord with your phone nestled in your pocket, then let it have a rest where you won't be able to reach it for a few hours.
  2. Clear your phone of time-wasting apps. While Facebook and Google Maps and a few other smartphone applications have definite uses, there are several silly games that we can most certainly do without. When I'm out with a friend who's entranced by her smartphone, nothing angers me more to see her playing a game with multi-colored, blinking and flashing squares. So next time you add an application, ask yourself, do you really need that one?
  3. Count how many times a day you check your email and/or Facebook account. And then cut that number in half. I'm sure you've experienced the feeling. You check your Net stuff once, and then you find yourself checking it over and over again, even though you know that nothing new has transpired from minute A to minute B. If you start a count of how many times you log in to check something, you'll know for yourself how ridiculous that number can become. Just as with counting calories when we try to lose weight, counting logins enables us to mindfully scale down our Net-checking compulsions.

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