'How to Break Up with Your Phone'


    Man on texting (WGME)

    Have you checked your cell phone today?

    It's likely a part of your morning routine and your afternoon and evening routine.

    But too much screen time can be bad for your health.

    The Pew Research Center estimates 77 percent of adults own a cell phone, and we're on them a lot.

    Sometimes at the expense of our families.

    "I had a baby and I was up all night with her and I had this out of body experience where I could see the scene as it would appear to an outsider. And it was her looking up at me as I looked down at my phone, which really upset me,” author and science journalist Catherine Price said.

    The moment was a "wake up call" for Price.

    In her book, "How to Break Up with Your Phone," she examines the downside of all that screen time.

    "Our phones and the time we spend on them are having effects on everything from our ability to concentrate and remember things, to our self-esteem, our physical health, our sleep or mental health, our relationships. It's a very long list,” Price said.

    Price studied the science behind our relationships with our phones.

    "The constant dinging of notifications actually increases our baseline level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone for the fight or flight response. Cortisol is essential if you're fighting or fleeing, but it's very bad for you it's elevated in the long run,” Price said.

    And while Price stops short of saying we're "addicted" to our phones, she does say there are similarities to substance abuse disorder.

    "The things that happen in your brain when you were addicted to a chemical such as nicotine or behavior such as gambling are the same chemicals that are activated when you're checking your phone, most importantly dopamine, which is your brains' way of recording when something is worth doing again,” Price said.

    However, Price says it's possible to have a healthy relationship with your phone.

    The first step is to think about it.

    "I think people can make changes in the moment that will have them change their relationship with their devices. I think the mere act of thinking about your relationship with your phone means you've already changed, because you've started to notice it,” Price said.

    From there, Price says to take baby steps.

    It could be as simple as putting your phone away at a restaurant, which some establishments are encouraging.

    The restaurant Hearth has a cell phone box on every table.

    "They see it, they open it. there's another note here that says, "We'd like to invite you to unplug during your meal at Hearth. Feel free to use this box to put your phone away and connect with your fellow diners,’” Chef and Hearth owner Marco Cantora said.

    Price has a 30-day plan to help you "break up" with your phone, but don't worry, it's really more of a "separation."

    “Breaking up with your phone does not mean dumping your phone, just to clarify. It means taking a separation to establish healthier boundaries with your phone,” Price said.

    She says changing our relationship to our phones opens up a world a possibilities for other connections.

    "You can create a relationship that keeps the stuff you love about technology and then minimizes or illuminates what you don't,” Price said.

    For more information on Price's 30-day plan to "break up with your phone," CLICK HERE.

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