By Dan Foley, the CEO and co-founder of Tailored Ink, a boutique copywriting and marketing firm based in New York City
This is not an article about hygiene. Yes, it’s gross when you realize that somewhere between 38% and 75% of people take their phones with them to the bathroom — especially in the Covid-19 era.
But, again, this is not an article about hygiene. It’s about happiness, productivity, creativity and the dangers of taking your phone to the bathroom (even in the best of times).
Working From Home? Why You Need A Break From The Screen
Working from home has its benefits. I’ve been doing it since I started my business six years ago, and I’m the first to sing the praises of killing the commute. But I also know all too well the drawbacks of working from home — and they mostly involve screens.
The average American spent as much as12 hours in front of screens each day before Covid-19. I can’t speak on your behalf, but according to my phone, my daily screen time has increased dramatically since February. The biggest reason? I don’t need to meet clients in person anymore.
The average American commute time is around 27 minutes, which is nearly an hour round trip. For a lot of people, that time has been replaced by more smartphone, TV and computer time.
Going out to eat? That, too, has been replaced by screen time. Bar hopping? Zoom happy hours with friends. Hitting the gym? Working out in front of a YouTube video. We are bombarded by screens all day. Every single day. Now more than ever.
So, why do we need to bring our phones with us to the bathroom?
Benefits Of Taking A Screen Break
A lot of research has been done on the harmful effects of blue light and how bad staring at device screens can be for you. I take all of it with a grain of salt, but some of the studies are pretty compelling. Some even claim that constant cellphone use leads to increased anxiety and depression.
A lot of this comes from screen separation anxiety. That’s when you feel uneasy or lonely if you can’t send a message right now or you find yourself grumpy when you’re away from your phone for any period of time.
Some people who experience screen separation anxiety also experience a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed. They have a desire to use their phone when they’re supposed to be focused on something else, even if it’s dangerous or prohibitive to do so.
Then there’s the one I see most: using your phone to avoid negative feelings. It’s usually pretty benign on a case-by-case basis: You’re bored for a second and need an Instagram feed fix, or you’re trying to avoid an unpleasant conversation by shifting your eyes to the screen. But then it becomes habitual.
Frankly, your smartphone can actually cause you to withdraw from real feelings, connections and