February 16, 2015


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Question: Are you more willing to go a week without your car, best friend, or cell phone? I’m pretty sure I know what most of you would say!

A study conducted by Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business and reported in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions revealed that on average, college students spend 9 hours per day on their phones. Of that time, approximately 94.6 minutes are spent texting, 48.5 minutes emailing, 38.6 minutes checking Facebook, and 34.4 minutes internet surfing. What are you looking for? Approval? Entertainment? Distraction? Connection? The reason you reach for your phone is less about the phone and more about your “checking habit.”

Each notification, beep, or buzz doesn’t just provide you with a new “like” or “friend,” it provides a satisfying hit of dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that our body releases when something good happens unexpectedly – like a smart phone notification. Dopamine is so satisfying that it reinforces our pleasure-seeking behavior. “I’ll just check Instagram one more time before I start studying”

80% of college students say that their smart phones interfere with learning and 25% say that their phones have affected their grades. Not to mention what they do to your health, relationships, and sleep habits.

Day One: Count how many times you check your cell phone. (Why are you checking? Is it merely boredom or habitual, or are you looking for something more?)
Day Two: See how long you can go between views before you feel anxious and have to check your phone again. (To give yourself a fighting chance, turn all notifications off)

Here are some small changes that can make a big difference (choose one to try this week):
Use an alarm clock and move your cell phone away from your bed
Turn your notifications off so that you only check your phone when you choose to.
Turn your ringer off for 25-minute study intervals, allowing yourself a 5-minute “tech check” between intervals. After four 25-minute intervals, reward yourself with a longer “tech check,” if desired.
Put your phone away at meal times and appreciate your friends and food!
Don’t let the dopamine dope you! Live well/Be well.

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