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Opinion
Leonid Bershidsky

I'm Winning My Battle With Smartphone Addiction

Mobile devices are easily adjustable. Brains are not.
Wired, tired.

Wired, tired.

Photographer: Hulton Archive

Most of the research on phone addiction and deprivation is done on students. It's not just the "kids these days," though. At 45, I'm a recovering addict. It's been four months since I uninstalled social networking apps, three months since I last posted on Facebook, and two months since I turned off all notifications on my smartphone. Before I started the detox program, I checked my phone about five times an hour. That's about half as often as the average millennial but about three times as often as most people of my generation in the U.S. Now, I'm down to once an hour. 

I think I got hooked because of my job. When I started out as a reporter in the late 1980s, you used your legs to get a story and teletype or dictation to file it from a remote location. It got progressively easier with email, the internet, search engines, social networks, and mobile communication. I could follow developments in several countries through a network of Facebook friends; in Ukraine, politicians became so addicted to Facebook that it became almost pointless to talk to them. In the U.S., much of the high-level political debate occurs on Twitter thanks in no small part to its tweeter in chief. I told myself that maintaining accounts on every social network was necessary for work, but that was absurd: most of these posts and videos were useless to me as a journalist.