Smartphone users told to put down devices - for 5 hours

Life is better when you're not constantly looking at your phone, says Shreya Upadhyaya.
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Life is better when you're not constantly looking at your phone, says Shreya Upadhyaya.

Shreya Upadhyaya might work for Spark but she has noticed life has improved in lots of ways since she started using her cellphone a bit less.

She is a supporter of Moodoff Day, designed to raise awareness of smartphone addiction.

In its fifth year, Moodoff Day is being held on February 26, offering smartphone users the challenge to do without their phones for five hours.

Founder Tapas Senapati said smartphones had lots of benefits but could also affect relationships and general social interaction.

READ MORE: Chargeable backpacks feed your smartphone addiction

 "Smartphone users that partake in Moodoff Day tend to realise the benefits of not always checking their phone every few minutes, and enjoy more personal interaction on the day," he said.

"Really, we should balance this every other day too, but starting with one day, may just be the catalyst to use our smartphones with more awareness, not just habitually."

Moodoff Day's motto "Breakfast Before Browsing", aims to encourage being present with family and friends over virtual connectivity through their phones. 

Senapati pointed to research that shows most users check their phones anywhere from every three seconds to every 10 minutes, and would spend time on their phones while with family and friends, while talking to other people, in the bathroom and during meals.

Smartphone users from 16 countries around the world participate in the day, which also has a Facebook page.

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Upadhyaya, a bid manager at Spark Digital, said she first connected with the cause in Sydney. She had become worried that excessive use of her phone was giving her watery eyes and pain her wrists from messaging a lot and playing games.

She has been observing the day each year since.

But she said she made an effort generally to put her phone down more often. "I not only don't use the phone a lot but over the weekend, when I go out, I leave my phone at home, even if I'm away for five or six hours."

She said not having the phone with her meant she was not tempted to look at it.  "I've started to see the benefits of that. I look around more, rather than looking at the screen."

She keeps the phone on silent so she is not disturbed by the noise of messages coming in. "After seven or eight hours I might see something and reply."

Not using her phone so much had made her more sensitive to others who did, she said.

"I have a friend who is so hooked up in his phone, he's always looking at his phone and it's sometimes annoying for us. If I've left my phone at home and gone for a good get together and he's constantly peering at his phone, it's a bit rude. Why call us over if you're looking at the phone all the time and not making eye contact?"

 - Stuff

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