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Phone Addiction – Why it’s a problem and why you might want to put down your cell phone

We’ve reached a point in today’s society that the mobile phone is quite possibly the most important item we own. It keeps us connected to our loved ones, it monitors our finances, the news, and the weather. It keeps us entertained. Cell phones are capable of doing so much in our everyday lives that we often don’t realize just how much time we spend on them. At what point do we start using our phones too much? Is it possible to be addicted to your phone?

What is Internet or Phone Addiction?

Typically, phone use is split into three major categories, each of which has the potential to become habit-forming.

  • Connection to Virtual Relationships: We all use social media to stay connected to our friends, family, and the world around us. It is when the connection to these virtual relationships becomes more important than the real-life relationships that you have in front of you that addiction may be present.
  • Compulsive Internet Usage: The amount of information available at our fingertips has always been both a good and a bad thing. When you have reached a point that your productivity has greatly reduced at work or you are neglecting your family, it is possible that you may have developed a phone addiction.
  • Compulsive Online Activities: From our phones, it is now possible to participate in other activities that have been proven addictive such as gaming, gambling, and shopping. These activities can cause social issues, but can also cause financial issues if not monitored closely.

Warning Signs of Cell Phone and Internet Addiction

You may have developed a phone addiction if you notice any of the following in any given day:

  • A feeling of extreme discomfort or uneasiness when you are without your phone.
  • You find it difficult to complete tasks at work or home due to excessive phone use; you often stay late at work because you have difficulty focusing on your tasks.
  • You find yourself withdrawn from family and friends; you have had a friend or family member expressed concern for how much you use your phone.
  • You often miss parts of conversations because you are browsing on your phone.
  • Experience anger or frustration when you are interrupted while using your phone.
  • A compulsive need to check your social media account to make sure you’re not “missing out” on important events or information.
  • You find yourself using your phone in hiding or you lie when asked how much time you spend on your phone.

These are just a few of the warning signs that you may have a phone addiction. You may wonder why exactly should this be concerning? Isn’t this just a part of life these days?

Effects of Phone Addiction on Your Brain

Like other addictions, phone addiction can lead individuals to experience a variety of symptoms.

  • Depression: It may seem that you are utilizing social media to “stay connected” but the connections end up leaving many individuals feeling lonely or depressed.
  • Anxiety: A feeling of anxiety has been shown to be more present in individuals who use their phones more frequently.
  • ADD: Phone addiction has a higher probability of occurring in individuals who already experience attention deficit disorder (ADD). These individuals already experience difficulty focusing on tasks and phones can compound this problem.
  • A decrease in restful sleep: Individuals with phone addiction may find it difficult to fall asleep and may not sleep as deeply for fear of missing a notification.
  • Increased stress: For individuals that use their phones for work, it becomes difficult to separate work and personal life. This leads to an increase in stress levels, both at work and at home.

How to Deal with Cellular Phone or Internet Addiction

We could all use to put our phones away on occasion and simply enjoy the world happening right in front of our eyes. If you feel that you have identified phone addiction as something that you may be experiencing, there are some steps that you can take to treat phone addiction.

  • Track your usage so you can see just how much you are using your phone.
  • Once you know how much you are using your phone, you can start reducing your usage.
  • Try your hardest to be “in the moment” when you are spending time with family and friends.
  • Institute a “no cell phone” policy when spending time with your loved ones.
  • Work to recognize the triggers in your life that make you reach for your phone.
  • Turn it off. If you can’t trust yourself to stay off of your phone at night or when out, simply turn it off. You can get by without checking it while you sleep.
  • If you feel that your phone addiction may be the result of other issues in your life, it may be helpful to seek therapy for both. Group therapy or individual therapy can be helpful in uncovering an underlying cause for phone addiction.

At the end of the day, we are faced with the reality that these small wonders can be both vital and detrimental to our lives. We just have to remind ourselves that we are in control of our phones and not the other way around.