Our lives are heavily reliant on technology, and our mobile phones are no longer just used to call and text. Our mobile phones now connect to the internet, store our information, and provide access to entertainment. It’s not surprising that many of us are finding ourselves suffering from phone addiction.
Is mobile phone addiction real?
Although mobile phone addition is not yet recognised as a mental disorder, research has shown it to be as serious a problem as a gambling addiction for example. In the same way as any addiction, mobile phone addiction is real and has serious implications for your mental and physical health.
Why is phone addiction harmful?
While checking your phone can seem innocent, if your use is addictive, this can have a severe impact on your life. Addictive use of your phone can cause physical complications such as:
- Repetitive strain injury
- Eye strain and headaches
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Increased risk of accidents, while driving or working
- Increased anxiety
- Difficulty getting to sleep or sleep disturbance
Additionally, using your mobile phone addictively can cause problems in your work and home life. For example, you may find yourself in trouble at work if you cannot leave your phone alone. Or perhaps your phone use is causing arguments with your partner because you are neglecting them and constantly checking your phone.
How to recognise if you have mobile phone addiction
It’s so commonplace for people to check their mobile phones that it can be hard to notice when we have become addicted. However, there are some tell-tale signs such as:
- Feeling panicky when you cannot access your mobile phone
- Not wanting to go anywhere without your mobile phone
- Feeling the need to check your phone constantly
- Worrying about missing texts messages or news
- Noticing that you can’t stop thinking about your phone
- Not being able to concentrate on activities without thinking about your phone
What to do if you think you are addicted
The first step of tackling any addiction is in recognising the problem, and the next step is wanting to do something about it. It’s important to remember that this is a valid problem with severe implications to your health, so there is no shame in seeking help, via your GP or a charity specialising in addictions.
How to stop mobile addiction
There are several methods that you can use to decrease the time spent on your phone such as the following:
Turn off or mute mobile phone notifications
Our phones can now send us notifications in many ways, such as alert tones to a connected device such as a smartwatch. Turning off these notifications will reduce the temptation to check our phone.
Delete all unnecessary games and apps
If you find yourself unable to stop playing the games on your phone, consider deleting as many as you can and clearing off all the unnecessary apps so that there is less to tempt you.
Set yourself down times
Start by gradually reducing the periods you are on your mobile. Perhaps at first going out with friends or your partner and for that time, turning your phone off. Then, you can increase the time, possibly working up to putting your phone on silent from a set time in the evening.
Put your mobile phone away from you
Checking your phone at night is bad for your sleep health. Rather than using your phone’s alarm to wake you, instead buy a clock alarm and put your phone out of the bedroom. Additionally, if your phone use at work is a problem then putting it away in a locker will help.
Share with people about what you are doing
Telling people about our addiction and that we are addressing it, can help to keep us accountable and give extra support. If your friends and family know that you are planning to reduce your mobile phone use, they will understand if you do not reply to their texts and emails as quickly as you did.
Use an app to monitor your phone use
Using a mobile phone app may feel counter-intuitive; however, some of them can be very useful. Companies now recognise that many of us are having issues with mobile phone addiction and therefore build apps that can help us to limit our use. For example, some apps will work in the background, calculating how many times we use our phone and will then send us a daily report. Knowing how much we use our phones can help us to face the truth of our problem. Also, there are apps which reward you when you spend less time on your phone or alert you when you are using it too much. Apps such as these can help us to be more mindful of our use and develop more healthy mobile phone behaviours.