How to Keep Reading Books in a Phone Obsessed Culture

Joel Ombry
4 min readJan 19, 2020

At some point, babies born in the United States and perhaps around the world will be born with their head slightly forward and their eyes cast down. To say we are a smartphone-obsessed culture is to not only state the obvious but to underestimate the transformation we are experiencing.

Consider:

  • 80% of smartphone users look at their phones within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning. In another survey, 46% said they checked their phones before they get out of bed.
  • 79% of adult users have their phone with them 22 hours a day.
  • Surveys vary widely, but some show as many as 75% of users look at their phones on the toilet.

In a disturbing article in Business Insider, several researchers weigh in on the harmful effects too much phone use can have on our brains and emotional state. One of the more obvious effects is the development of an addictive phone checking habit because of the variably timed “rewards” we receive for social media posts and pics such as likes, comments, and shares (something researchers call a “variable ratio schedule”).

So does this smartphone obsession spell doom for bibliophiles as our attention span shifts to what can be absorbed in a few seconds on a 2x4 inch screen? Of course not. However, you may be finding it more difficult to scratch the itch of reading a good book (made of paper) as often as you’d like.

I’m sharing my thoughts on this because I confess to being as guilty as anyone of this obsession. It’s something I’m working to change, and perhaps “going public” may help me follow through and help others with what I’m learning. Below are some ways to keep books in our hands.

Use technology to support your book reading habit, not compete with it. With sources like Amazon, the entire publishing world is open to us. We can find almost any book on any topic. We can also connect with books in new ways as some authors engage online with their readers. Most people use their smartphones for texting, email, and social media — some even talk live to other people (quaint I know). But you can also read books on your phone. While not my first choice, it keeps one reading, learning, and enjoying.

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Joel Ombry

Trying to figure it out by writing it down. Interested in politics, health and fitness, writing and personal development.