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The explosive growth of Androids, iPhones and other cell phones has enabled individuals to use the Internet while on the move and at any time. Ninety percent of adults in the United States own a cell phone, and while this may not be a concern for many, some people can develop a dependency on their smartphones.

Constantly enhancing the functionality of cell phones raises the likelihood of excessive use and dependence. Seventy-six percent of smartphone owners, based on the PEW Research Center, have acknowledged checking their phone for messages or calls when it did not vibrate or ring. This is a significant indication of mobile phone addiction and should serve as a caution to cell phone users.

So how do we maintain a balance between cell phone usage and our lives? What tools or strategies can we use to reduce our cell phone usage? Continue reading to learn more about cell phone addiction, its symptoms, and how to stop addiction to phones.

While a cell phone, tablet, or computer can be highly useful tools, their excessive use can cause problems at work, school, and in interpersonal relationships. When you engage excessively in playing games or using social media than socializing with real people, or when you simply cannot stop yourself from continuously checking emails, texts, or apps despite the negative effects it has on your life, it may be time to reevaluate your technology usage.

Being obsessed with phone, often colloquially known as “nomophobia” (fear of not having a cell phone), is frequently driven by an Internet misuse issue or an Internet addiction disorder. Ultimately, it is the social apps, games, and online worlds that our smartphones and tablets connect us to that generate the addiction.

Many impulse-control issues can be categorized as cell phone addiction, including:

Virtual connectivity. Addiction to social media, texting, online dating apps and messaging can progress to the extent of virtual, online friendships taking precedence over interpersonal interactions in the real world. Everyone has witnessed couples talking on their smartphones while seated next to one another in a restaurant. Online connections are not a healthy replacement for in-person interactions, even while the Web can be a fantastic place to meet new people, get in touch with old friends, or even initiate romantic relationships. Online friendships can be attractive because they frequently take place in a vacuum, free from the responsibilities or stresses of messy, real-world interactions. Using dating apps compulsively can cause you to lose interest in building long-term relationships and instead focus on quick hookups.

Overwhelming information.  In addition to decreasing work productivity or efficiency at school, compulsive web browsing, viewing movies, playing games, or monitoring news feeds can keep you alone for extended periods. Internet and smartphone addiction can make you disregard other facets of your life, including hobbies, social activities, and real-world relationships.

Addiction to cybersex. Your real-life romantic relationships and general emotional health may suffer if you engage in compulsive Online porn, nude-swapping, sexting, or adult messaging services. Although online pornography and cybersex addictions are forms of sexual addiction, the Internet has made them more accessible, somewhat anonymous, and very practical. It’s simple to lose hours in fantasies that are impractical in reality. Excessive usage of dating apps that encourage casual sex might hinder the growth of long-term close relationships or sour an already-existing one.

Online addictions including gaming, betting, online shopping, stock trading, and bidding on auction sites such as eBay can frequently lead to problems with money and employment. Access to online gambling has rendered gambling much more approachable, even though gambling addiction has long been a well-documented issue. Online shopping addiction and compulsive stock trading can both have negative social and financial effects. Addicts to eBay can get up at odd hours to get in during an auction’s final few minutes. To experience the thrill of making the winning bid, you can spend money on things you can’t afford and don’t need.

You cannot tell if you have a phone addiction or overuse problem based on how much time you spend on your phone, how frequently you look for updates, or how many texts you receive or send.

Being constantly on the phone becomes an issue when it prevents you from prioritizing your face-to-face interactions, school, work, hobbies, or other vital aspects of your life. It’s time to reconsider your cellphone use and achieve a healthier balance in your daily routine if you find yourself avoiding friends over lunchtime to check Facebook posts or continuously scanning your phone in while driving or listening to lectures. 

You might wonder why is it bad to be on your phone all day. Being on phone all day can have severe detrimental effects on your physical and mental health. The following are red flags of excessive cellphone or Internet use:

Difficulty in finishing activities at work or home. Because you’ve been occupied chatting online, sending texts, or playing video games, do you realize that your laundry is piling up and there isn’t much food in the house for dinner? Perhaps you are working later more frequently because you are unable to finish your assignment before the deadline.

Being cut off from friends and relatives. Do you spend too much time on your phone or another technology to the detriment of your social life? Do you frequently check your phone while you’re at a meeting or conversing with pals, missing out on what is being said? Have your loved ones voiced concern about how much time you spend on your phone? Do you believe that nobody in “real life,” not even your spouse, has the same understanding of you as your online friends?

Hiding the use of your cellphone. Do you secretly go somewhere quiet to use your phone? Do you conceal your smartphone use or tell your family, coworkers, and boss that you spend very little time online? Do interruptions to your internet time make you irritable or cranky?

Experiencing “fear of missing out” (or FOMO). Do you detest feeling behind the times or believing you’re missing out on significant news or information if you don’t usually check your phone? Do you feel the urge to obsessively monitor social media because you worry that other people are enjoying themselves more or have more exciting lives than you do? Are you a night owl and do you check your phone?

The fear of leaving your cell phone at home, having the battery die, or having the operating system crash. Or do you experience phantom vibrations, when you believe your smartphone has vibrated but there are no fresh notifications or messages when you check?

Frequently, excessive cellphone use is an indication of other underlying issues, like stress, worry, loneliness, or depression. Nonetheless, it can also aggravate these issues. When you use your cellphone as a “security blanket” to alleviate emotions of worry, loneliness, or social discomfort, for example, you will only succeed in isolating yourself further from other people. Looking down at your phone will prevent you from engaging in face-to-face encounters that provide meaningful connections with others, reduce anxiety, and improve your mood. In other words, the treatment you’ve chosen for your anxiety (using your smartphone) is exacerbating it.

Being obsessed with phone or the Internet can also have detrimental effects on your life by increasing your loneliness and sadness. Although it may appear that abandoning yourself online can temporarily alleviate negative emotions such as loneliness, melancholy, and boredom, it might make you feel worse. A 2014 study identified a link between social media use and anxiety and depression. On social media, users, particularly adolescents, frequently engage in unfavorable comparisons with their peers, fostering feelings of isolation and melancholy.

Boosting anxiety. One researcher discovered that the simple presence of a phone in the workspace tends to increase anxiety and decrease task performance. The greater a person’s phone usage, the higher their anxiety levels.

Increasing tension. Using a cell phone for work frequently causes work to invade one’s personal life. You feel pushed to always be available and in contact with your employer. This constant urge to check and reply to emails might contribute to increased stress levels and perhaps even burnout.

Increasing symptoms of attention deficit disorders. The constant flow of messages and data from a cellphone can overload the brain and make it hard to focus on a single task for more than a few moments without feeling inclined to go on to something else.

Your capacity to focus and think critically or imaginatively is impaired. The constant buzzing, pinging, or beeping of your cell phone can distract you from vital activities, impede your work, and disrupt those peaceful periods that are so important for creativity and problem-solving. We are no longer ever alone with our thoughts because we are always online and linked.

Disturbing your sleep. The disruption of sleep caused by excessive cellphone use can harm your mental health. It can have negative effects on your memory, your ability to think effectively, and your learning and cognitive abilities.

Encouraging self-centeredness. According to a study conducted in the United Kingdom, social media users are likelier to exhibit undesirable personality traits like narcissism. Snapping endless selfies and publishing all of your thoughts and life details can produce unhealthy self-centeredness, alienating you from real-world interactions and making it more difficult to deal with stress.

Sleep disorders.

  • There is a correlation between cell phone addiction and an upsurge in sleep disturbances and weariness among users.
  • Before bed, cell phone use increases the probability of sleeplessness.
  • Bright light may reduce the quality of sleep.
  • Cell phone use could lengthen the time required to fall asleep.
  • The cell phone’s light may stimulate the brain.

Depression.

Anxiety.

According to research, university students who are using their cell phones frequently are more likely to experience anxiety during their spare time.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Relationship difficulties.

The neglect of offline interactions may stem from heavy social media and cell phone use.

1. Reserve one day/week.

This is by far the most prevalent strategy among individuals who have recently taken deliberate steps to reduce their cell phone usage. Tammy Strobel, who spoke about it over 10 years ago, deserves credit for being the first person we heard mention it. Choose one day every week (typically a weekend day) to put your phone away. That’s it; make it a habit.

2. Reset your phone usage with a 30-Day Experiment.

This is the most effective method for breaking the cell phone habit. When not actively restricted, cell phone use is likely to occupy a greater portion of your free time. It occurs unintentionally and discreetly, and we don’t even appear to notice.

A reset period of forty days helps the majority of individuals in realigning their phone usage with more vital tasks.

3. Enhance your self-control by using phone apps.

There are apps for nearly all of life’s problems. There are even amazing applications designed to help us reduce our device usage. Here are a handful of our favorites:

  • Space. Set daily objectives and monitor your daily progress to manage your habits effectively.
  • Forest. ($1.99) Maintain focus and be present. Forest is a wonderfully crafted app that incorporates gamification into productivity and plants actual trees based on the user’s phone usage habits.
  • Moment. Moment lets you handle your phone more healthily through brief, everyday exercises.
  • Flipd. Lock away any apps that could be distracting for better concentration.
  • Screentime. Set daily limitations for your phone or specific applications.

4. Do not charge your phone in your bedroom.

Want to know how to prevent your children from overusing their phones? They should not be permitted to charge their phones in their bedrooms.

Want to discover a fantastic strategy to avoid using your phone? Charge it outside of your bedroom.

By removing your mobile phone from your bedroom, you may prevent many of the negative impacts of misuse, such as poor sleep, impaired communication, and diminished intimacy.

5. Put your phone aside while you are at home.

Christopher Mims publishes a weekly future tech column for The Wall Street Journal, a position that involves constant use of technology. His tried-and-true method for maintaining a healthy balance between life and his cell phone is to store it in a kitchen cupboard at the end of each workday. He says that the more you forcibly and physically remove your phone, the more you’ll develop the habit of ignoring it when it is on your person.

When you leave during the day, place your cell phone in a cabinet or cupboard. This is a beneficial practice for everyone, but we believe it is extremely important if you have children or a spouse at home who require our full attention.

6. Adjust your phone’s settings.

Changing your phone’s settings is one of the most frequently recommended methods for lowering cell phone usage.

The most frequent words of advice:

  • Disable notifications
  • Adjust the display to black-and-white
  • Remove apps that cause distractions from your home screen.
  • Set a lengthier passcode
  • Use flight mode
  • Enable do not disturb

We believe that everyone, regardless of the frequency with which they use their cell phone, should switch off notifications. Even if someone would want to text you, email, or mention you in a Facebook post, it does not mean they should be allowed to have your attention at any moment they want. The cell phone’s screen is not generally set to grayscale, but this setting has been found to aid in the recovery from cell phone addiction.

7. Wrap a hairband over your mobile device.

Putting a hairband over your cell phone is an unconventional but effective technique for overcoming phone addiction. When put in the center of the phone, the hairband makes it easier for users to answer calls but hinders other phone functions (including simple texting).

When you are using your phone, you must engage in an awareness or mindfulness exercise and ask yourself, “What is my intention?” Set your purpose for why you need to use the phone, then release the hair band.

This self-evaluation is not intended to label you with cell phone addiction. If you are worried about your behavior problems, discuss treatment options with your physician or mental health practitioner.

  • Do you catch yourself spending more hours than you think on your cell phone?
  • Do you frequently waste time by aimlessly looking at your cellphone, even though there may be preferable or more useful things to do?
  • Do you feel out of control and lose sight of time while using your mobile phone?
  • Do you devote more time to tweeting, texting, or emailing than conversing with real-life individuals?
  • Is the number of hours you devote to your cell phone growing?
  • Do you honestly wish you were less wired or tied to your mobile device?
  • Do you frequently sleep on your cell phone, or keep it next to your pillow?
  • Do you frequently check and respond to messages, emails, and tweets, at all hours throughout the day and night, even if it means disrupting other activities?
  • Do you text, tweet, email or browse the internet while driving or performing other activities requiring your undivided attention?
  • Do you sometimes feel that your cell phone usage hinders your productivity?
  • Are you hesitant to go without your cell phone, even momentarily?
  • When you go outside, you always have your phone with you, and you feel uneasy or uncomfortable if you leave it in your car or at home, if it is out of service, or if it is broken.
  • Is your phone always on the table when you eat?
  • When your phone rings, dings, or buzzes, do you have a strong compulsion to look for tweets, texts, emails, etc.?
  • Do you frequently check your phone during the day, even knowing there is probably nothing new or significant to see?

Resource References

1.      Smartphone addiction. HelpGuide.org. Available at: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addictions/smartphone-addiction.htm.

2.      How to stop being “addicted” to your phone: 5 tips. Psych Central. Available at: https://psychcentral.com/lib/coping-with-cell-phone-addiction#what-is-it.

3.      Signs and symptoms of cell phone addiction (2019) PsychGuides.com. Available at: https://www.psychguides.com/behavioral-disorders/cell-phone-addiction/signs-and-symptoms.

4.      What really happens when you stare at your phone all day, The List. The List. Available at: https://www.thelist.com/72539/really-happens-stare-phone-day.

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