How to Help Others
Maybe you have successfully purged the obsessive impulse to constantly be on your phone. Now you are looking around at the people you are usually with, as you are not looking at your phone anymore, and see that they might have a problem too! Perhaps you have children or teenagers and see that they spend nearly all their free time on a device instead of developing themselves.
Do not blame your loved ones, because they are suffering just as you have suffered too. It is important that to ensure a healthy discussion about the phone and social media addiction, you approach the conversation kindly and with compassion. You want to encourage your loved ones to open up to you, not to close them off further by blaming them.
Do not immediately approach your loved ones with advice and recommendations before discussing possible underlying problems they may have. Usually, addictions are due to emotions that are difficult to endure and so a person turns to a toxic behavior to distract themselves from those feelings. Make time to sit with your loved ones and ask them how they are feeling that day. This will be a lengthy process as they may not open up right away, or even know the cause for their negative feelings.
Do speak to them with compassion and understanding. When discussing the issue, use the collective first-person “we” and refrain from phrasing things with the secondary-person, the accusatory pronoun “you.” This makes the other person feel included and not singled out for bad behavior. This lifts some of the burdens of shame off of their backs and creates a comfortable space where they can feel safe to share and be honest about their addiction.
An example of how to start the dialogue could be “We have a serious problem with making time for each other, ” instead of saying “You don’t make time for others.” Including yourself in the conversation prevents someone from feeling like they are being spoken down to or criticized. This also makes the issue seem like a collective problem that you can all work together to find solutions for as a team.
Do not demonize the devices you use, as they are simply tools at the end of the day. It may seem tempting to look at it in this way. But you cannot blame the phone for doing exactly what it was designed to do. This will only shift all responsibility for their actions onto the phone itself and will prevent them from accepting the truth of the situation.
Use facts to back your claims and speak honestly. You cannot lie and make things up to convince someone to do something. This will backfire in the future when they discover that you were dishonest, and they will revert to their addictive habits with a vengeance! Supplement your conversation with real statistics and health facts. This will be the healthiest way to have these tough discussions with your loved one.
Signs of Phone Addiction in Others
The signs and symptoms of phone addiction in others can manifest in multiple different ways. The clearest and obvious sign is the constant use of a device, but there are secondary and tertiary effects that you might not have realized were signs until now.
Some signs are headaches, blurry vision, sleep problems, an unregulated nervous system resulting in frequent illness, and loss of an accurate sense of time due to desensitization. Other such symptoms of a phone addiction include restlessness, difficulty concentrating, anger or irritability, craving access to devices when not available, anxiety, depression.
Ways to Help
You have to address the problem head-on. Utilize the conversational strategies outlined above to ensure these discussions happen and continue after more than just one brief admission. Discuss emotions and life events often to foster a safe and trusting environment.
Provide your loved one with resources and a space to vent. Give them this reading material so that they too can learn about the negative influence of excessive device usage, as well as the impact these obsessive behaviors have on the body and the mind. Encourage them to do their part in educating themselves so that they can help themselves. Active engagement with creating a solution will yield the best results.
Encourage your loved ones that they can change their habits for the better. No one wants to be told only what they are doing wrong; this only fosters more anxiety and will not lead to a desire to change. If you let someone know they are strong and competent often enough, they will start to believe it. With increased self-esteem, your loved ones will find the inner strength to commit to healing.
You can help your loved ones by implementing these techniques illustrated throughout the text. What works for you can work for others, but keep an open mind. Not every technique will be successful, but as long as you can decrease exposure to devices and encourage self-control, that is a good step.