Almost everyone has at least one game on their mobile phone. Or several. Maybe it started innocently enough – you just downloaded a couple to keep your kids occupied when you needed to. But eventually, you were the one playing Candy Crush on the toilet until your legs fell asleep. (No judgement – except for the having kids part, I’ve been there.) I don’t have any games on my phone, a strategy I use to try and minimize how much I use it. But my iPad is another story. Up until recently, I had SEVERAL games on there. My usage was getting out of hand. More importantly, it was getting in the way of actual work. So, as part of my year-long effort to give up different addictions, I gave up mobile games for a month.
Let’s play a game
First, in case it needs to be said, I don’t judge anyone for playing games on their phone, tablet, or video game console. Gaming can be a great way to relax or have fun with friends. However, it started to get in the way of other things that were important to me. Though I had several games on my iPad, I got addicted to one in particular – Matchington Mansion. It’s this weird blend between old-school The Sims and Candy Crush. You play these puzzle games to earn points that you trade for virtual furniture in your virtual home. Puzzles AND interior design? Sign this nerdy white lady up!
I realized I had a problem when I was having trouble limiting the time I played the game. I’d think “Oh, I have ten minutes, I’ll just play for a bit”. And then, 2 hours later, I’d realize that a good portion of my work day was gone and I’d skipped dinner. And I had nothing to show for it but a “new couch” that I couldn’t actually sit on.
Admitting your problem is where you start
At the beginning of May, I deleted ALL games off of my iPad. Yep, even Matchington Mansion. I’ve actually done this before, periodically, with decent success. But I was curious whether my results would be different since my husband and I are still trying to stick with quarantine (he has asthma). Would it be more difficult for me to give up games since I had a bit more time on my hands?
Well, the answer was a resounding “NO”! This was honestly the easiest challenge I’ve taken on all year. The terms of my challenge were easy to define, easy to execute, and it was unfathomably easy to avoid temptation. I wasn’t playing games on my phone anyway, and with the apps removed on my iPad, I couldn’t just mindlessly log into them. Also, even though I like video games, I’m not in the habit of playing them. When you’re trying to give up anything, changing the circumstances of whatever you’re avoiding helps. It’s like trying to stop eating junk food – if it’s in the house and easy to access, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to resist.
However, if I’m being fully honest, my social media addiction is back in full force. With all of the important things going on in the world, I am not sure that I’ll give it up, cold turkey, for another month like I did at the beginning of the year. But I want to make a plan for how I use social media going forward. If any of you out there have strategies, feel free to share!
What’s your next move?
As I’m writing this, I’m more than a week into June and have only re-downloaded Solitaire to my iPad, and played it twice. If I can get my social media use under control, I intend to increase my time spent reading actual books. Blowing a couple of hours doing that doesn’t seem so destructive. I’m glad to know that if I need to do so again, it will be pretty easy to give up mobile games for another month.