It’s Time to Break Up with Your Phone

Catherine Price shares a seven-day plan to replace technology overload with clarity and intention

Illustrations by Asia Pietrzyk

Codependent. If any word captures the relationship between phone and user, it’s that one. And not just because we depend on our phones and our phones depend on us. Too often our “codependence” is an unhealthy and unbalanced relationship with a sleek, seductive sliver of technology. The tell-tale signs: cramps in our “texting thumbs”; sleep lost to round-the-clock games; conversations with friends and partners that go nowhere because our eyes—and attention—are plugged in elsewhere. 

With tech addiction, as with all kinds of dysfunctional relationships, identifying the problem doesn’t automatically make it better. The American Psychological Association’s 2017 Stress in America report, which surveyed over 3,500 American adults, revealed that 65% believe they should periodically unplug or do a digital detox to improve their mental health. However, only 18% report actually doing so. 

Phone addiction is real. 

The reason lies partly in our neurochemistry. As smartphones keep us informed, connected, and distracted, our brains get used to a steady flow of stimulation. Over time, merely picking up the phone triggers the release of dopamine, that tiny blip of excitement and satisfaction. Like any high, the feel-good sensation doesn’t last and our brains hunger for the next hit. Ping! and we’re reaching…

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About the author

Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning writer and science journalist whose work has appeared in many publications, including the The Best American Science Writing and the New York Times. Her previous books include Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food and Mindfulness: A Journal.