If you’re like me, the first time you charge up a new tablet, you immediately download your favorite apps. Be it games, social media or news apps, I want to personalize my device as soon as possible. The first time I got my hands on a tablet, I was glued to it because my games were so much fun to play on a large screen. Angry Birds was more enjoyable with extra room to drag the bird back before I let it fly.
There comes a point, though, and it’s a very, very fine point that is difficult to recognize, when it’s become too much. It’s the point where you’ve quietly grown an invisible leash from your hand to your tablet, and you can’t put it down. You must know if your “Having lunch with my bestie! –Eating Sandwiches” post has gotten any more likes, and then you’ll just check real quick to see if anyone’s posted anything new on your Wall. While you’re at it, just play that round of SongPop real fast, and come to think of it, it only takes a quick second to see if you have any new Tweets. These are signs it may be too late for you. You’re officially addicted.
The first step is recognizing and then admitting you have a problem. You may not realize you have one, but others do. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Do you still have friends or are you always on your tablet? Do you pull out your Nexus 7 in the middle of conversations to play your turn in Words with Friends? Have family members asked you to “please put that down” when they’re trying to have a conversation with you? Are you able to put your tablet down for a few seconds, minutes or hours – or never?
One you’ve admitted your addiction, you can begin to heal. I’m not saying do away with your tablet completely, no. They’re incredibly handy devices and I think every household should have one. However, there’s a time and place. Try to recognize when you turn to play a game or update your status, and ask yourself, “Is this necessary right this second?” Or better yet, “Would my time be better spent opening my Kindle app to read a book?” Instead of feeding your friend’s goats on Farmville, you may want to open your email and correspond with granny.
Those Facebook apps can be the trickiest because your friends are constantly inviting you to play. The only reason I gave in to Candy Crush was because a friend begged me to sign in and give her a life. I wanted to tell her that she couldn’t get a life via a Facebook app – a virtual life isn’t the same as a real one. Regardless, I decided to play one level. “Wait, this is just Bejeweled” I told myself, “how can it be so addicting?” Three hours later, I had my answer and a dead tablet battery.
After completing the first land in Candy Crush and getting to a point that I’m sure I ultimately had to pay to ever get to the next level, I decided I had to stop the madness. See, you have to want to stop playing. It’s hard to get over an addiction if you aren’t serious about getting better.
With any app, the first step is to remove it from your device. You know, eliminate temptation and all. Then get on Facebook so you can go into your app settings and block certain apps. I now never receive invites to play Candy Crush or Plants vs. Zombies, and I’m a much more attentive friend because of it. You can be, too!
Now, you may experience some withdrawals, and this is completely normal. Your thumbs may itch, you’ll dream of flying fruit, your tablet may let out quiet sighs (actually, this isn’t normal and you may want to get that checked out by a professional), you may reach for your device when it isn’t there. This phantom tablet spell will end after a short period of time. Meanwhile, go outside for a walk and stretch your thumbs. Try using your tablet only for educational, researching purposes or for business. And, of course, enjoy talking to people and giving them the attention they deserve.