#infosec | #ISC2Congress: It’s Time to Break Up with Your Phone


Staring at screens all day is reducing the quality of our lives, according to award-winning journalist Catherine Price.

Delivering a keynote on day two of the (ISC)² Security Congress in Orlando, Florida, Price told a receptive crowd that by constantly checking their smartphones, people are damaging their productivity, creativity, relationships, memory, attention spans, posture, and sleep, and reducing their ability to focus and be present.

“Our phones are impacting our enjoyment of our lives,” said the author of How to Break Up with Your Phone.

“There are mental effects of being on social media and seeking social affirmation all the time. You see this particularly with teenagers, but adults are certainly not immune to it.

“I hear from psychologists and pediatricians all the time about really disturbing spikes in anxiety, depression, even suicidal ideation, especially in teenage girls.”

After examining the negative impact of going through life with your smartphone glued to your hand, Price gave a slew of practical tips on how to cut daily screen time.

Instead of simply setting screen-time limits, Price advised the audience to set positive goals.

“The point is not actually to spend less time on your phone; it’s to spend more time on your life, on the things you care about,” said Price. 

“Ask yourself what you want to spend more time on, and then ask yourself how your phone habits are getting in the way of that.”

Price said that while some people are losing hours each week to addictive “slot machine” apps like email, social media, and games, others are getting waylaid by bad habits, like constantly checking their news app.

Identifying when and why you reach for your phone can help you find other ways to meet your needs. Triggers can be situational—everyone around you is using their phone—or emotional. 

“There’s probably an emotional goal behind what you’re doing,” said Price. “Figure out what reward your brain is after and figure out another way to get the same result. So, if you’re feeling lonely, actually call a friend.”

She advised people to view their phones as distracting obstacles rather than objects of pleasure, and to remove any tempting apps.

“I don’t have any pictures of my kid or my husband on my home screen, because I realized when I was doing that, I was associating my phone with people that I loved, which was making me want to be on my phone more.”

Finally, Price advised turning off notifications on your phone and in your apps so that you can’t be interrupted.

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