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Smartphone Addiction: What is it?

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The following is an excerpt from Smartphone Addiction by Helpguide.org:

What is smartphone addiction?

Smartphone addiction, sometimes colloquially known as “nomophobia” (fear of being without a mobile phone), is often fueled by an Internet overuse problem or Internet addiction disorder. After all, it’s rarely the phone or tablet itself that creates the compulsion, but rather the games, apps, and online worlds it connects us to. Think about all the things you can do and all the things you can control on your smartphone. While we’re not all addicts, we are all drawn to our phones and everything the small devices hold. The reality is that smartphones can be used effectively to enrich your knowledge and lifestyle, but most of us find ourselves scrolling mindlessly through social media instead. You can read more on using your time effectively online here. Furthermore, phones just keep getting smarter and updating our modern world. ‘Smart homes’ mean that even the most mundane household devices and features can be connected to the internet, even things like doorbells and plugs. This article from iDisrupted explains the different uses of some of the newer features of a ‘smart’ home. It is easy to see why so many of us can get hooked by our phones.

Effects of smartphone addiction

While heavy phone use can often be symptomatic of other underlying problems-such as stress, anxiety, depression, or loneliness-it can also exacerbate these problems. If you use your smartphone as a “security blanket” to relieve feelings of anxiety, loneliness, or awkwardness in social situations, for example, you’ll succeed only in cutting yourself off further from the people around you. Staring at your phone will deny you the face-to-face interactions that can help to meaningfully connect you to others, alleviate anxiety, and boost your mood. In other words, the remedy you’re choosing for your anxiety (engaging with your smartphone), is actually making your anxiety worse.

Smartphone or Internet addiction can also negatively impact your life by:

Increasing loneliness and depression. While it may seem that losing yourself online will temporarily make feelings such as loneliness, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air, it can actually make you feel even worse. A 2014 study found a correlation between high social media usage and depression and anxiety. Users, especially teens, tend to compare themselves unfavorably with their peers on social media, promoting feelings of loneliness and depression.

Fueling anxiety. One researcher found that the mere presence of a phone in a work place tends to make people more anxious and perform poorly on given tasks. The heavier the phone user, the greater the anxiety experienced.

Increasing stress. Using a smartphone for work often means work bleeds into your home and personal life. You feel the pressure to always be on, never out of touch from work. This need to continually check and respond to email can contribute to higher stress levels and even burnout.

Exacerbating attention deficit disorders. The constant stream of messages and information from a smartphone can overwhelm the brain and make it impossible to focus attention on any one thing for more than a few minutes without feeling compelled to move on to something else.

Diminishing your ability to concentrate and think deeply or creatively. The persistent buzz, ping or beep of your smartphone can distract you from important tasks, slow your work, and interrupt those quiet moments that are so crucial to creativity and problem solving. Instead of ever being alone with our thoughts, we’re now always online and connected.

Disturbing your sleep. Excessive smartphone use can disrupt your sleep, which can have a serious impact on your overall mental health. It can impact your memory, affect your ability to think clearly, and reduce your cognitive and learning skills. This is in part due to the EMF signals that phones radiate, which can be detected with an EMF detector device (which you can Buy Here).

Encouraging self-absorption. A UK study found that people who spend a lot of time on social media are more likely to display negative personality traits such as narcissism. Snapping endless selfies, posting all your thoughts or details about your life can create an unhealthy self-centeredness, distancing you from real-life relationships and making it harder to cope with stress.

Signs and symptoms of smartphone addiction

We can use smartphones to fill every quiet moment and keep us entertained, up to date, and connected to friends and strangers alike. But how much time is too much time to spend on a smartphone or other mobile device?

Americans spend an average of nearly 3½ hours a day on their mobile devices-checking social media, watching videos, and accessing apps or the Internet. However, there is no specific amount of time spent on your phone, or the frequency you check for updates, or the number of messages you send or receive that indicates an addiction or overuse problem. You may need to use the Internet or email extensively for work, for example, or have to be on call for your job or as a family caregiver, or you may rely heavily on social media to keep in touch with faraway family and friends. Most people using social media are just trying to stay in contact with people they don’t see often, which a lot of people seem to be doing through using computers to see their instagram dms online and messages from their other social media platforms. Although, some people may develop negative characteristics from using social media too often, others appear to be using it with good intentions.

Spending a lot of time connected to your phone only becomes a problem when it absorbs so much of your time it causes you to neglect your face-to-face relationships, your work, school, hobbies, or other important things in your life. If you find yourself ignoring friends over lunch to read Facebook updates or compulsively checking your phone in while driving or during school lectures, then it’s time to reassess your smartphone use and strike a healthier balance in your life.

General warning signs of smartphone addiction

  • Trouble completing tasks at work or home. Do you find laundry piling up and little food in the house for dinner because you’ve been busy chatting online, texting, or playing video games? Perhaps you find yourself working late more often because you can’t complete your work on time.
  • Isolation from family and friends. Is your social life suffering because of all the time you spend on your phone or other device? If you’re in a meeting or chatting with friends, do you lose track of what’s being said because you’re checking messages or updates on your phone? Have friends and family expressed concern about the amount of time you spend on your phone? Do you feel like no one in your “real” life-even your spouse-understands you like your online friends?
  • Concealing your smartphone use. Do you sneak off to a quiet place to use your smartphone? Do you hide your smartphone use or lie to your boss and family about the amount of time you spend online? Do you get irritated or cranky if your online time is interrupted?
  • Have a fear of missing out. Do you hate to feel out of the loop or think you’re missing out on important news or information if you don’t check you phone regularly? Do you need to compulsively check social media because you’re anxious that others are having a better time, making more money, or leading a more exciting life than you? Do you get up at night to check your phone?
  • Feeling of dread, anxiety or panic if you leave your smartphone at home, the battery runs down or the operating system crashes. Or you feel a phantom vibration-you feel your phone vibrating but when you check, there are no new messages or updates.

Withdrawal symptoms from smartphone addiction

A common warning sign of smartphone or Internet addiction is experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to cut back on your smartphone use. These may include:

  • Restlessness
  • Anger or irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep problems
  • Craving access to your smartphone or other device

If you would like help with a smartphone or other technology addiction, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.