In today’s world of technology and social media, smartphones have become the technological equivalent of heroin. And just like heroin or any other drug, smartphones can become addicting. Most of us turn to our phones when we’re happy, sad, bored, or angry. Our phones are always there for us when we need them. And, as with any other “drug,” that can be a cause for concern. A cell phone addiction can separate us from our loved ones, stress us out, negatively impact our careers, and damage our relationships.
Addiction vs. Overuse
According to recent studies, 90% of Americans would fall into the category of overusing or abusing their smartphones, while between 10 – 12% can be diagnosed with an actual addiction. Other shocking cell phone related statistics include:
- 70% of people say they check their phone within 1 hour of getting out of bed.
- 56% check their phone within 1 hour of going to sleep.
- 51% check their phone continuously while on vacation.
- 44% said they’d experience a great deal of anxiety if they lost their phone and couldn’t replace it for a week.
Sound familiar? As always, the first step to solving a problem is realizing you have one. A good cell phone addiction test is to read through the following list to see how it relates to you and your daily life. If you find that more than just one or two items apply, you may be addicted to using your smart phone.
The signs of possible cell phone addiction or abuse include:
- Spending more time on your smartphone than you realized or mindlessly passing time staring at it even when there are more productive things you could be doing.
- Spending more time texting, emailing, or tweeting others as opposed to talking to real people.
- Sleeping with your phone under your pillow or beside your bed.
- Answering texts, emails, etc. at all hours of the day and night, even when it means interrupting something else you were doing or diverting your attention from something that requires focus and concentration.
- Secretly wishing you could be less wired or connected to your phone.
- Feeling ill-at-ease or anxious if you accidentally leave your phone behind somewhere or if it’s broken or lost.
- Giving your phone a permanent place-setting at the table during dinner time.
- Feeling an intense urge to check your phone any time it beeps or buzzes.
Managing Your Phone Usage
If you are concerned about overuse or addiction to your cell phone it may be wise to take a few steps toward managing the problem:
- Try to resist answering your phone every time you get a notification. Avoid temptation by putting your phone on silent (with no vibrate) for a while.
- Be disciplined about not using your phone in certain situations, such as meetings, family dinners, driving, or during certain hours (for example, between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.).
- Try removing apps that are not a priority. Accept that you don’t need to have access to everything all the time. Some applications might be more appropriate for your computer or laptop than your phone.
- Take advantage of Airplane Mode. This is a quick, simple way of turning off notifications on your phone, while still having the ability to take pictures and access local files.
- Add an app that can help. As ironic as it may sound, there are apps you can use – such as BreakFree or StayOnTask – which will help you limit your smartphone usage.
The important thing to focus on when facing smartphone addiction or overuse is the impact this issue may be having on your life. To a degree, this issue has become an accepted part of society. So many of us deal with smartphones on a day-to-day basis it’s easy to disregard this as being no big deal. If you suspect otherwise, open yourself up to loved ones to ask their true opinions on the subject. Conversely, if you have a loved one who has fallen victim to smartphone abuse or addiction, voice your concerns to help make them aware that a problem may exist.
If either of these situations fit you and the tips above haven’t worked, it might be time to speak with a professional to discuss more specific steps. To get more information and help for breaking a cell phone addiction, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or contact Dr. Rosen and The Center today.