Understanding how the pull of cell phones has made us lose the art of waiting

The pull of the cell phone screen is pretty strong for some of us, especially in those moments where we find ourselves alone in public.

Any downtime we have, we fill with screen time, meaning less time daydreaming or letting the mind wander.

Intrigued by her own compulsive phone use, Seven Sharp reporter Claire Robbie sought to understand why we've lost the art of waiting.

Mindfulness facilitator and psychologist David Stebbing said, "In a certain sense, what it does is it takes us out of ourselves, which is, I think, the pleasurable element to it".

"Out of the present moment, out of an awareness of our own, sometimes unpleasant, thinking and very much onto something specific, so there’s that focus component, but it's not a mindful-type focus – it's a distraction."

Each little message, like or follow gives us feel-good chemicals – one of the reasons it can become addictive.

So how do we stop using our phones too much?

Mr Stebbing, who teaches mindfulness and meditation to his clients, says, "You can ask yourself interesting questions, like, 'When did I last sit and read a book for an hour without looking at my phone?'"

"You might say to yourself, 'I'm quite happy to spend x amount of time on my phone today, and between this time and this time, I just won't use it; I won't look at it.'" 

However, he admits the pull of the screen can be hard to resist, saying his own phone use is "horrendous".

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Claire Robbie investigates why many of us are compulsive smartphone users. Source: Seven Sharp