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Published on June 15, 2017

5 Warning Signs You May Be Addicted to Your Smartphone

5 Warning Signs You May Be Addicted to Your Smartphone
We rely on our smartphone more than ever. We use it to communicate and socialize through texting and social media, to navigate our world, take high resolution photos, play an endless array of games and peruse the internet. Is it possible to become addicted to our smartphones?

According to Deloitte’s 2016 global mobile consumer survey,  the average American checks their phone 42 times a day. If the user is between 18-24-years-old, that number goes up to 82 times a day. Can so much usage create an actual dependency? Many experts say yes.

Here are five behavioral symptoms that you may have a dependency problem:

  • Preoccupation. You find yourself checking your phone while doing mundane tasks or if there are a few moments of waiting for something such as the microwave or in line at a store.
  • Unable to quit. You cannot put the phone down for extended periods of time. You feel compelled to check your phone during things such as movies or meals.
  • Withdrawal. You experience withdrawal when you cannot use your phone. You are frustrated if there is no service or your phone is not readily accessible.
  • Shame. You feel the need to hide your phone use. You turn your back on others when using your phone or walk off to be alone while checking it.
  • Loss of control. You go to your phone at the first sign of boredom or depression. You are looking to your phone to provide the same relief that people seek in overeating, drinking or drugs.

Take note of how often you are on the phone. Write it down and track your phone usage. If you find that you and your family are spending too much time on your devices and not enough time engaging with each other and the world, try implementing any or all of the following steps:

  1. Create “no phone zones” In your house or your car so that you can converse face to face with your friends and family.
  2. Keep phones away from the dining table at mealtimes and set them on silent.
  3. Keep your phone out of the bedroom at night. Use a regular alarm clock instead of your phone to wake you up.
  4. Turn off all notifications. These notifications can provide an addictive rush. The brain likes a steady stream of dopamine and these notifications can cause an unhealthy spiral of spikes and plunges.
  5. Create a digital sabbath where you do not use your phone for an entire day.
  6. Sign out of each app after you use it. Signing back in will help you realize that you have absentmindedly begun using your phone.
  7. Don’t take your phone into the bathroom. Do your business and get back to living life.
  8. Leave your phone at home when going on a walk or to the gym.
  9. Stop using your phone at least an hour before bedtime. If you have trouble falling asleep, read a book, magazine or do a crossword or Sudoku puzzle.
  10. Don’t check your phone first thing in the morning. Give yourself time to wake up. Wait until you get to work to check your email.
  11. Stop checking your phone any moment you find yourself alone. Use this time to think or absorb the environment you are in.
  12. Never use your phone while driving. Put your phone in the trunk so you won’t be tempted.

About the Author

Deborah Opalski, DODeborah Opalski, DO practices family medicine with Primary Care at Forest Oaks