Written by: Shani Fowler
These days it’s common, arguably necessary, to own a phone. Throughout the last couple of decades most of us have adopted technological advancements such as phones, computers and tablets as part of every day life. Those who don’t own a phone are often met with awe and questions as though they have just climbed out of a cave. Phones are a status symbol and a social tool; surely they’re a positive addition to our lives not a compulsive addiction? They enable us to communicate on thousands of different levels all over the world? There’s no need to start crafting tin foil hats, right?
Recent studies and media coverage suggests perhaps the level at which we indulge in this technology has lead to ‘phone addiction’ and it is more of a problem than we think. So ask yourself ; are you addicted to your phone?
Why do people become addicted to their phones?
Phones – particularly smart phones – offer a sort of reward system in exchange for their usage. It can be satisfying to hear your phone chime when you receive a text message or an update from social media. Phones make it easier to satiate our need for communication with the outside world and they have the ability to grant this instant gratification.
Phones also come with so many apps and abilities these days it’s as though we are walking around with the answers to anything in our pocket. In some ways we are. If you have a question you can Google it. If you need directions to somewhere you can simply look at the maps. They can supply us with the news, music, games and thousands of other possibilities. It becomes almost second nature to reach for our phones in almost any situation.
How can you tell if you’re ‘addicted’?
Addiction is a very loaded word. It is classified by many differing behaviors such as lying about habits, defensiveness when questioned and putting extensive time and effort into the activity. Although these warning signs may apply to you on some level it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go to rehab like some technology-junkie version of Lindsay Lohan. Instead, let’s look at the more exclusively phone-related habits.
Are your phone habits disrupting your relationships?
How often are you on your mobile during a face-to-face conversation? How often do you check your phone during dinner, or during other activities where it is unnecessary to do so? We’ve become desensitized to these acts as so many of us are guilty of them, but in reality it’s rude, needless and perhaps even worrying if it occurs frequently.
Do you have strong emotions towards your phone?
Do you become anxious at the thought of being without it? In extreme cases this is referred to as Nomophobia: a feeling of distress some experience when separated from their phones. Obviously it’s probably normal to be agitated if you leave your phone at home by accident, but if you genuinely feel anxious without it you may have an addiction.
If you’re worried about your phone habits, here’s what you can do:
Become conscious of the problem
As I’ve said, phones are socially acceptable additions to our lives now. They’re accepted and somewhat expected. However that doesn’t make it healthy. Once you are aware of your phone habits, you can begin to change them.
Make changes to your phone
Somewhat ironically, there are apps you can get that help those addicted to their phones, such as Human Mode which is available on Android. Another productive idea is to remove everything that is not crucial from your phone perhaps only leaving your important contacts, an alarm clock, messages and a browser.
No-Phone time zones
During a meal or a conversation, leave your phone somewhere else. Apply this rule to any other activities that you do not need your phone for and you’ll find your dependency dwindling.