📗 Understand

Jun 10, 2024

10 min read

Why Am I Addicted to My Phone?

Why Am I Addicted to My Phone?

That's the million-dollar question. And it's a crucial one. Why do we find ourselves constantly reaching for this small device, even when we know we should put them down?

Let's take a brief look at the situation. On average, we spend 29h 40minutes per week on our phones. That's almost a full-time second job. Spending so much time on a small screen isn't all good news.

In terms of mental health (FOMO, stress, sleep problems, anxiety, and even depressive symptoms) and physical health (sedentariness, increased obesity leading to cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, etc.), screens can have a significant impact. We're not going to list all the harmful effects again. If you're here, you probably already know them.

But there's no need to panic! Every problem has solutions. This time, we will tackle the issue optimistically and reassuringly. Our goal: to keep you smiling and motivated even during tough times. We've prepared our best tips for you to use now, alone or with others!

The Weakness of Humans

If you thought you were perfect, think again. Humans are full of flaws, both biological and psychological.

🧬 Addiction to Dopamine

Our brains love our phones, but it's a biological love. Experts like Andrew Huberman explain it well, but here's the key point: our phones trigger reactions similar to slot machines in casinos. The surprise, variability, success, and failure stimulate our brains and release dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure or happiness.

The problem is that dopamine is a molecule the brain quickly gets accustomed to. The more it has, the more it wants. That's why we love scrolling so much. Every swipe gives us a "hit" of dopamine, and with an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes a day, that's a lot of hits! It's enough to make our brains completely addicted.

🌀 Exploitation of Cognitive Biases

We are also addicted to certain services because they exploit what are called "cognitive biases" (simply put, brain flaws) to increase their retention (average time per day and the lifespan of their service in your life). There is a whole list of cognitive biases, more or less complex, that exploit our human limitations to make us consume more. Let’s look at a concrete example: streaks.

On Snapchat, streaks are flames you earn each day as long as you "chat" with a friend. If I stop sending Snaps even for a day, I lose the flame. Snapchat integrated this feature to ensure you want to return to the app every day. Side note: if Snapchat appears "free," how do they pay their employees? Simple, they have an economic model based on advertising. Advertisers pay Snapchat to show their ads to users. By returning every day, you continue to see more ads, so they make more money.

But why did it work so well? Because people didn’t see Snapchat’s disguised manipulation. They saw that having more flames between us meant a stronger, more powerful, deeper friendship. "We talk every day." Just like that, a feature became an important indicator to judge the depth of a friendship between two individuals. If you’re interested, Tristan Harris explains this process perfectly in the following video.

⚡️ Energy < Action

The brain is lazy. The less it does, better it feels. And the phone has become its best friend in this purpose. Everything is so easy and just a tap away! Eating? Why cook when one tap brings my meal to the door? Watching a movie? I’m not going to the cinema, I’ll stream it on Netflix!

We love our phones because everything is so simple. The cost of an action is so low compared to the benefit, making us all a bit addicted. And services know this well. They employ top designers to constantly simplify the processes, removing any friction or frustration. One of the best examples is the infinite scroll, invented by Aza Raskin in 2006. Before, to continue viewing content, we clicked "Next." Too much friction. Remove it, and now the content scrolls infinitely!

Me vs. Companies Worth Billions

👀 My Real Enemy: Me or Them?

Even if we are "experts," there is no way to know all of the human flaws. And how can you win a fight if you don’t know what your enemy looks like? That’s the real problem. How many of us really know how Meta makes money (if this was easy, skip to the next)? How does TikTok’s recommendation algorithm work?

You’re probably stumped. That’s normal. We’re always one step behind the innovation of tech giants. We start to get interested in their engineering and design when we see the damage on ourselves and society. We think they are responsible. Well, yes in a way, but we are also at fault despite our willpower.

♾️ Algorithmic Manipulation

I wonder if all employees at Meta know how their algorithmic system works. Most likely, no. So imagine how little the general population knows.

I like to talk about manipulation because yes, it’s done without us realizing it, and we can’t really act on it. Anyway, we signed up and gave our consent. Even if you want to fight it or think it’s possible, remember one thing: they’re always one step ahead. If you love cute cats today, tomorrow they’ll make you love puppies.

Stop Fighting > Start Protecting

Let’s be honest: these companies won’t change. Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t. Today, they must show constant growth figures. Once we accept that, there’s only one thing left to do: take matters into their own hands and start protecting our time and attention from these distractions.

🎲 Create and Enforce Your Rules

We use our phones a lot without realizing it. When you find yourself scrolling, do you remember what pushed you to use it? What were you doing? What were your intentions?

That’s a big problem: we lack intention and are victims of habitual use. These services have made our usage so frequent it's automated. It’s time to reverse the trend.

🕟 Too Much Time, Not Enough Time?

Do you feel you spend too much time on your phone and not enough outside of it? Then change! Your phone shouldn’t dictate your actions. The time is yours, it belongs to you, so it’s up to YOU to decide what to do with it. Set the rules and limits yourself. Don’t be afraid to resist.

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

Made simple. See by yourself.

⚡️

💜

🔒

⌨️

🌿

🌿

🌙

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

Made simple. See by yourself.

⚡️

💜

🔒

⌨️

🌿

🌿

🌙

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

All made simple. See by yourself.

⚡️

💜

🔒

⌨️

🌿

🌿

🌙

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

All made simple. See by yourself.

Techniques to Transition from Compulsive to Mindful Use

So, where to start? Seeing your screen time and feeling tears or guilt is a good sign—it means you’re ready to change. But don’t let negative emotions discourage you. To help you see results quickly, we’ve prepared a list of battle-tested tips backed by scientific studies (we didn’t just ask ChatGPT for the same rehashed advice 💩).

⚖️ Restore the Balance

Let's say you spend 5 hours per day on your phone—what does it mean? In reality, it’s meaningless. For some, these 5 hours are 100% entertainment, passive use. We’re just consuming. For others, 5 hours is a mix of creating, social interactions, work, and some entertainment.

Time in itself is vague. What matters is how it’s divided and whether it aligns with your goals or not. To change, you must go through a little bit of self-reflection. No need to cut everything if you don’t even know what you do all day!

To help, you can use the Jomo app, available for free on iOS (and Mac). We introduced a "Screen Time Journaling" feature. The idea is to note what you did on an app (without going into details) and how it made you feel. Why do this? It helps realize that some uses are more harmful than we thought. By taking the time to insert this reflection, you start to become more aware of your uses, giving you the first hints of improvement and change.

Take a week to note your apps every night (at least the 10 most used) and do this reflection. Quickly, the "Activities" section will fill up and give you a clearer view of what you do on your phone.

🕟 Limit Time Smartly

Next, impose usage limits. Forget classic time limits that block you after a certain period. They are often too frustrating and get abandoned. Aim for concrete and lasting results.

Back to Jomo. The beauty of this app is its creative ways to block apps. Here are some fun blocking rules if you need motivation:

  • Good App First: Use a minimum time on “positive” apps before unlocking others. This helps quickly balance productive screen time (where you are active) and passive time (just consuming content).

  • App Limit: Apple's "App Limits" end with "Ignore for today." Ineffective! Jomo blocks apps until the next day once you reach your limit. You can allow a few "extra-uses" if needed. Unlike Apple's Screen Time, this is fully configurable. You decide the number of unlocks allowed, the maximum time, etc

  • More Steps = More Time: Tend to use the phone for long periods without breaks? This setting works great. Only let you open certain apps after walking for a few minutes.

  • Screen-Free Hour: Love reading in bed but waste time on your phone? Set a break in the evening. Entertaining apps will be blocked automatically from 10 PM. You’ll start sleeping better quickly.

😮‍💨 Reflexive vs Conscious Use

One common problem is "urgent" or "reflexive" uses. We often don't realize we check our phones over 300 times a day or spend 4 hours glued to the screen. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, which we have explained in another article that we encourage you to read if you are interested in the topic.

The goal is to bring more intentionality into your usage, making you aware of the time spent on your feed and how often you open certain apps each day. At Jomo, we’ve developed the "Conscious Use" method: by default, the apps you choose are blocked. You need to request a "pause" from Jomo to temporarily unlock them. At this moment, you must indicate why you want to use the apps and for how long. You can also make the process more challenging if you find it too easy:

  • Change the friction to "Random Code": By default, we ask for the reason for usage, but for some, it’s too easy. You can set a random code with several dozen characters, making it much harder to unlock.

  • Add a delay before the Break: Another type of friction is applying a mandatory delay before you can take a break. The more pauses you take, the longer you must wait! You can also set a fixed delay yourself.

  • Delays between two Breaks: If you find yourself overusing breaks, set a waiting delay between them. This spaces out your breaks and prevents getting lost in distractions.

☘️ Imposing Offline Time

At Jomo, we don’t believe much in "detoxes," going from all to nothing in a specific period. However, we do believe in disconnection times. It’s important not to have your phone glued to your hand all the time, daily or weekly.

When screen time represents a third of your waking hours, it’s easier said than done. How to manage it?

  • Set Offline Moments: Using your phone continuously is not ideal (constant distractions, blue light exposure, etc.). It’s important to learn to live without it sometimes, putting it down and engaging in other activities. But when? Identify the moments most suitable for a forced disconnection. Jomo’s app homepage has a usage graph. When you’re not using your phone, it’s symbolized by a leaf. Try to find the time slots where the leaf appears most often and turn this information into a new habit.

  • Find Screen-Free Activities: Putting the phone aside is essential, but so is having 100% screen-free moments. Initially, it’s challenging: what to do? We created a widget in collaboration with Marguerite from Digibloom to help you find activities to try during these disconnection phases. Install it on your homepage for ideas!

  • Block your apps temporarily and regularly: Blocking everything at once for an indefinite period is tough, especially for heavy users. It’s better to go gradually. Use the blocking function as follows: a little bit every day. Try blocking some apps for 30 minutes every 3 days, then gradually increase the duration and frequency. This will help you moderate your usage instead of trying to restrict yourself drastically.


We don’t believe much in "detoxes," going from all to nothing in a specific period. However, we do believe in disconnection times. It’s important not to have your phone glued to your hand all the time, daily or weekly.

When screen time represents a third of your waking hours, it’s easier said than done. How to manage it?

Set Offline Moments: Using your phone continuously is not ideal (constant distractions, blue light exposure, etc.). It’s important to learn to live without it sometimes, putting it down and engaging in other activities. But when? Identify the moments most suitable for a forced disconnection. Jomo’s app homepage has a usage graph. When you’re not using your phone, it’s symbolized by a leaf. Try to find the time slots where the leaf appears most often and turn this information into a new habit.

Find Screen-Free Activities: Putting the phone aside is essential, but so is having 100% screen-free moments. Initially, it’s challenging: what to do? We created a widget in collaboration with Marguerite from Digibloom to help you find activities to try during these disconnection phases. Install it on your homepage for ideas!

Block your apps temporarily and regularly: Blocking everything at once for an indefinite period is tough, especially for heavy users. It’s better to go gradually. Use the blocking function as follows: a little bit every day. Try blocking some apps for 30 minutes every 3 days, then gradually increase the duration and frequency. This will help you moderate your usage instead of trying to restrict yourself drastically.

🧼 Reviewing Your Environment and Habits

If you thought blocking your apps would solve the problem, it’s a bit more complex. Your brain has likely associated phone use with certain daily actions, forming "bad habits." To reduce phone usage and break the dependence, you need to correct these bad habits. Here’s a proven method:

  • Replace rather than eliminate: Do you tend to use your phone to fall asleep? That’s a fact. But the real question is: what do you do on your phone to fall asleep? Once you answer this, you’ll find your "real" habit. Now, try to separate this activity/need from the phone and make it an offline activity. For example, if you browse social media for news, buy a gossip magazine. If you watch a series, try a calm game instead, or read short stories (or a novel if you’re motivated!).

  • Give yourself a helping hand: Changing a habit is hard at first. Like an addiction, there’s a feeling of withdrawal reinforced by automatisms. Going to the bathroom? You grab your phone to scroll. Waiting for the bus? You scroll through social media. These automatisms need to be chased away! Help your brain: make the bathroom a screen-free zone with magazines or entertaining reviews. Near your bed at night, have only books or magazines.

🔎 Finding Your "Self" Outside of Screens

Many people, especially the younger ones, face this real issue today: who am I outside of screens? It might sound strange, but it’s not.

If tomorrow you had no internet access or phone, what would you do spontaneously? What activities would you engage in? How many of us can honestly answer these questions?

We’ve given so much to our phones that we’ve forgotten ourselves in the process. No time to develop hobbies, try new things, love or hate activities. The phone has absorbed everything. So, we need to cut back and find out who we want to be and what makes us who we are.

No need to panic. Find areas you enjoy and narrow it down. For example, "I like art" is vague. Narrow it: I like art → I like drawing → Drawing, but I especially like comics → I like drawing comics, but mostly character design → I like character design, especially facial expressions. Now, I know an activity that will make me happy is drawing facial expressions in comic style to perfect my character design. Your turn!

📱 Your Phone is JUST an Object

Remember, the phone is not a living being; it’s an object like a chair or a teapot. If you value it more than your chair, it’s no longer just an object to you, and that’s a problem.

Re-teach your brain that the phone is just an object. Gradually detach yourself from it, like a detox. Every time you’re about to do something on your phone, ask: Can I do this another way? If yes, why not?

Gradually, your dependence on your phone will decrease, and your brain will consider more moments or actions without it. After all, it’s not more important than a chair!

This article is long, I admit. But you don’t have to read it all at once. Bookmark or save it to your favorites to come back later! Remember, you are never weak against your "dependence," and you can overcome it. You are facing companies making profits from your time and attention. They will do everything to keep growing, so don’t let them control your brain. Take back control.

🔗 Study ; ✋ Illustrations by Jomo