Do you need to throw your smartphone in the trash to live your best life? Not necessarily, according to researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), who suggest that we could all benefit from cutting down on screen time, but only a little bit. “The smartphone is both a blessing and a curse,” says study leader Dr. Julia Brailovskaia in a university release.

Estimates show the average adult spends about three hours daily scrolling away on their smartphone. There’s always something to captivate our attention between social media, news feeds, endless video games, and an app for everything else. In recent years, studies have blamed smartphones for many modern problems ranging from rising anxiety rates to neck pain. It begs the question: Are people better off switching back to flip phones and landlines?

The study authors set out to answer that question by gathering together 619 participants. They separated the volunteers into three groups: 200 were told to avoid using their smartphones, 226 reduced their daily use by just one hour, and 193 kept using their smartphones as they usually would.

smartphone
Courtesy: Brett Sayles/Pexels

Researchers also interviewed each person about their overall lifestyle habits and well-being one and four months after the experimental week ended. More specifically, the study authors examined how often people were exercising, how many cigarettes they were smoking daily, how satisfied with their lives they felt, and if they were feeling depressed or anxious.

“We found that both completely giving up the smartphone and reducing its daily use by one hour had positive effects on the lifestyle and well-being of the participants,” explains Dr. Brailovskaia. “In the group who reduced use, these effects lasted longer and were thus more stable than in the abstinence group.

Notably, changing their smartphone habits for just one week appeared to produce lasting results among subjects. Even four months afterward, participants who had been assigned to the abstinence group were using their phones for an average of 38 minutes less per day.

Meanwhile, the “one hour less” group was using their phones as much as 45 minutes less per day after four months. This group also showed improved life satisfaction, more exercise, and less depression, anxiety, and nicotine use. “It’s not necessary to completely give up the smartphone to feel better,” Dr. Brailovskaia concludes. “There may be an optimal daily usage time.”

People spend more than three hours a day glued to their smartphone screens. We search Google, look for directions, check emails or the weather, shop, read the news, watch films and hang out on social media, but Dr. Brailovskaia said this was ‘both a blessing and a curse.’ Researchers said it was unnecessary to give up the smartphone to feel better. Still, they discovered that reducing its daily use had positive effects on a person’s well-being.

There is no denying that people spend a lot of time on their smartphones now. This is true for youth and adults. It is common to see various people scrolling through their phones. They could be playing games, having a texting conversation with a friend, and scrolling through social media. While smartphones have a lot of benefits, and they are helpful in our everyday life, they can be harmful. They can take a toll on our wellness and our mental health.

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