How often do you check your phone? Do you obsess over your social media? You’re not alone. In fact, most people check their phone a minimum of 47 times a day (and some days, that number sounds a little low). That means that you check your phone something like 17,155 times a year.
There are some studies that also show that 80% of smartphone uses check their phone within one hour of going to sleep or waking up in the morning, and 85% of people who own smartphones will check their phone even while they are speaking to their friends and family. Yikes.
The truth is, with so much information right at our fingertips at all times, many of us have become addicted to our smartphones. That’s right—addicted. We are dependent upon these devices and impulsively check them even when we know there’s no need for it. It’s been characterized as similar to other addictions—smoking, gambling, alcohol. There’s even a special name for it: Nomophobia. NO MObile PHOne Phobia. Good heavens, we’ve given it a silly name that’s not even really an acronym of anything.
“But Wordsmith,” you say, “I can’t be addicted to my phone. It’s a tool that I use to get through the day!” And you would be right—smartphones are amazing tools, and wonderful things when we use them productively! But the problem is that we often aren’t using them productively, and waste an awful lot of time just scrolling on them. (Don’t worry, I fully admit that I am guilty of this!)
So, how do you know if you suffer from Nomophobia? Well, if you’re asking, chances are that you are. But there are a few signs that you can look for. (And before you ask—yes. I have exhibited many of these signs. I, too, just might suffer from Nomophobia.)
15 Signs Of Smartphone Addiction
- Do you feel anxious, irritable, or uncomfortable if you don’t have your phone with you?
You might even turn around to get your phone if you find out you don’t have it, even if you’re halfway to your destination. You just can’t stand the idea of not being able to reach out and touch it.
- Does the idea of a dead phone battery terrify you?
People with smartphone addiction use their phones so much, they’re constantly running the battery down. Of course, if your battery dies, then you can’t keep checking your phone.
- Do you sleep with your phone next to you at night?
You may sleep with it either under your pillow or next to the pillow. All that blue light so close to your head as you try and try to fall asleep.
- Do you spend a lot of time thinking about social media?
You might be obsessed with checking your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram on your phone, and absentmindedly scroll through the apps to kill time.
- Do you have difficulty completing chores or work due to concentration issues?
There are some who claim that all of the technology we use in our current day-to-day lives has shortened our attention spans and made it more difficult for us to concentrate.
- Do you check your phone the first thing when you wake up in the morning and the last thing at night before you go to sleep?
- Are you constantly checking or scrolling through your phone, even if you have no message notifications and you know there is nothing to see?
- Do you take your phone to the bathroom? (Come on. Everybody’s done that at least once, right?)
Do you text while driving?
Not only is this ridiculously dangerous, it’s also illegal in most states. And people still do it. Just in case by some miracle you haven’t heard it: DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE. It can result in accidents, injuries, and even death. It’s a bad idea.
- Do you eat with your phone?
If your phone is part of your regular table setting, and you’re checking your messages during every meal, you may be obsessed.
- Do you feel phantom vibrations?
You know without a doubt that your phone was vibrating in your pocket—but when you look at it, there are no missed messages. GHOST messages.
- Do you try to hide your smartphone use? Do you sneak off to the bathroom with your phone at work?
- Are you constantly on your phone even when you’re having conversations with people face-to-face? Do you text, tweet, or e-mail more than you actually talk to people? Do you spend more time scrolling through your Facebook than you do actually interacting with your loved ones or spouse?
- Are you constantly checking or scrolling through your phone, even if you know you have no message notifications or you know there is nothing new to see?
- Do you lose all sense of time when you check your phone, only looking up to realize you’ve lost hours of your life that you’ll never get back?
If any of these sound like you, you are not alone. And if you secretly wish that you could unplug and take time away from your device, you’re not alone there either. Smartphone-addicted people tend to have significantly higher levels of depression, anxiety, impulsivity, and insomnia. There are also studies out there that show that the more quality time we spend with our electronic devices, the shorter our attention spans get. So maybe it’s time to unplug for a little while.
How To Break Up With Your Phone
This is going to be difficult. But you may benefit from breaking up with your phone, even if for just a little while. I’m actually in the process of trying some of these techniques myself to cut down on my screen time, too. Now, look your phone in the screen, and repeat after me: “It’s not me, it’s you.”
OR…you could consider these.
- It might take a little self-reflection, but it would be helpful if you take the time to realize what your triggers are. What makes you pick up the phone—is it boredom? Stress? Anxiety? Are you using scrolling through your phone as some type of coping mechanism?Once you know what draws you to it, you can consciously put together a plan to find other useful ways to deal with the emotional triggers. Do you pick it up because you’re stressed? Try taking a walk, or doing some deep breathing exercises. Bored? Read a book, or pick up a hobby. (Like knitting, or axe throwing.)
- Try turning off your audio notifications. Pavlov’s experiments worked for a reason. If your phone dings every time you get a text or a Facebook update, you’re going to dive for it like Britta did in this episode of Community.
- Set limits. Mark out times where you can or can’t use your phone, such as banning it during meals or, for goodness sake, ban your phone from the bathroom. No one wants to know that you’re texting them from the toilet. That’s just weird.
- Make conscious efforts to interact with people in person rather than through the phone. If someone is sitting five feet from you trying to have a conversation, make eye contact. Invest in the people around you. Not only will the experience take on a much richer context, but the person you’re talking to will greatly appreciate the fact that you are paying genuine attention to them. It will really make a difference.
Want To Know More?
If you’re interested in learning more about Nomophobia and smartphone addiction, you can check out this article from CNN, which discusses studies on how our phones are changing our brains. Forbes featured this piece last year about phone addiction. NPR has a series of pieces that discuss various facets of smartphone addiction, and the importance of powering down every once in a while. And if you’re super-sciency (yes, that’s a word. I’m a wordsmith, I can do that), you can look through this from the National Institutes of Health.
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