It may be hard to believe, but the iPhone has just been around a decade. While cell phones (or mobile phones) had been around for about two decades longer, it was not until 2007 that the glow of iPhone screens began illuminating our faces wherever and whenever we roamed. During this short decade, the iPhone (or, generically speaking, smartphones) have become so powerful, so ubiquitous, and so integrated into everything in our lives, some psychologists are claiming they are “changing our brains” and are worried about the effects of the smartphone on children. Even some major stockholders of Apple have called on the company to study the effects of heavy usage on mental health.


 Are smartphones changing our brains?

One thing is certain. If iPhones haven’t changed our brains, our brains would be one of few things in life that they haven’t changed. My wife and adult children call my iPhone, “the machine.” The nickname originates from an inside-family joke involving my father-in-law’s request for me to look something up “on my machine.” Having a machine that gives me access to hundreds of potential questions I might come across during the course of a day makes my brain smarter. However, two years ago a car driven by a person using an iPhone ran into me as I was riding my bike home from work. In that case, the driver’s machine resulted me having a concussion that probably made my brain a bit less smart. (Fortunately, my bike survived and yes, I was wearing a helmet.)

Last fall (October 2016) Apple’s chief design officer Joni Ives was asked how the iPhone today differs from what he, Steve Jobs and others believed it would evolve in to. “Like any tool, you can see there’s wonderful use and then there’s misuse,” he said.  When asked what considered a “misuse,” he said, “Perhaps, constant use.”


How to stop using your smartphone constantly

1 | Don’t interact with your phone while driving

This means stop texting, checking, talking or anything else that keeps you from being distracted while driving. For example, the Apple iOS 11  mobile operating system has a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” setting. You can also enable it by going here:

 Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls

Then, tap the green plus button to make it appear in Control Center. When this feature is active, you won’t receive calls or messages, but you will receive emergency notifications. You can choose to receive calls from selected contacts.

2 | While watching TV or reading, don’t keep your smartphone near you

According to a growing mountain of research, there is no such thing as multitasking. Driving distracted is the cause of 11 U.S. traffic fatalities each day.

3 | Take control of your push notifications

 This article on Wired.com explains the why’s and how’s of shutting off notifications. Follow the instructions and it could throttle back the 40+ times a day you’re checking your phone

4 | Set your screen to “grayscale”
You may not believe this until you try it, but making your smartphone screen display in “black and white” will do two things: (1) Give you a jolt of awareness when you look at the screen, and (2) Help you overcome clicking on the next flashing button. Try it, really. Here is how:

iOS | To switch your iPhone over to grayscale:

Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations >
Color Filters > and select Grayscale

Android | The process for enabling grayscale differs for different models of Android phones, but it’s typically accessed via the “Accessibility” menu.

 

 

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