My friend, Andres, just emailed me as he was getting his first smartphone. He asked for tips for making sure his phone use did go off the rails. So I wrote him this response:
First off, tons of people have smartphones and are great people. I just recently started using an Android phone myself and have been very pleased. The app marketplaces give you all kinds of cool functionality that would be hard to get otherwise. For example, I have an app now that wakes me 15 minutes before sunrise every day.
As far as practical suggestions:
Create a tools only homepage. You never want to get to your homepage and be distracted by an attention hungry app.
Launch apps by typing (I use an app called Nova Launcher on Android, this may be a built in feature for iOS)
Don't install any apps with an infinite scroll (Mostly social media does this but some news sites have started doing it as well. If you get to the bottom and it just loads more content automatically that is what I am referring to.)
Disable all notifications that are not from people. Things like Jenny added you as a connection on LinkedIn is not something you want to be notified about. But if Jenny sends you a message it is.
Use do not disturb mode on a schedule. (A lot of people suggest getting an separate alarm clock and not sleeping in the same room as your phone but I have found that do not disturb mode on a schedule keeps me from ever being woken up.) Also the do not disturb modes are great about allowing customization. You can have it let through people who call more than once, in case of emergency.
Install an app called Moment. It is the best way to keep tabs on how you are using your iOS device (if you were using Android I would recommend RescueTime). Unfortunately iOS makes is pretty hard for apps like Moment to keep track of how much you use any app and when. But Moment is the best way to do it at this point.
Use the map but not the navigation feature. There is some research that suggests that people lose the ability to spatially orient when they always use nav. And they don't notice things in route nearly as much.
Don't use your phone when you are with other people. Many people are beginning to treat their friends and family like they treat devices (pauseable, tools for getting needs fufilled). Also there is evidence that even a turned-off phone on a table makes conversations less satisfying and generates less empathetic concern.
Let me know how it goes! Good luck!
Lin, H., & Lin, H. (2012 September 4). How Your Cell Phone Hurts Your Relationships. Scientific American. Retrieved 14 October 2017, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-your-cell-phone-hurts-your-relationships
Take Control. (2017). Time Well Spent. Retrieved 14 October 2017, from http://www.timewellspent.io/take-control/