Tips to Drop the Phone Addiction
Around 90 percent of all American adults — and many young people — own a cell phone, and the Pew Research Center reports that 67 percent of smartphone users admit to checking their phone regularly, even if it hasn't notified them of a call or message.
While cell phone addiction isn't listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, which is used to diagnose substance and behavioral addictions and other mental health problems, experts compare cell phone addiction to other behavioral addictions found in the DSM, like a gambling or sex addiction.
Signs That You May Be Addicted to Your Cell Phone
So, you check your phone constantly, you pull up Facebook or Twitter while you're in line at the grocery store, and you freak out when your battery is about to die, or you can't find your phone. Does that mean you're addicted? Well, it depends. Addiction is serious stuff, and it's pretty complex.
But if you answer "yes" to at least four of the following signs and symptoms of cell phone addiction, you may, indeed, be addicted to your cell phone.
- Is your cell phone use ever escalating so that you seem to spend more and more time looking at it?
- Have you repeatedly tried and failed to use your cell phone less often?
- Do you turn to your cell phone when you have an unpleasant emotion, such as boredom, anxiety, or depression?
- Do you lose a sense of time when you're on your cell phone, and end up using it for a longer period of time than you intended?
- Has your excessive cell phone use caused problems at home, school, or work?
- Has your cell phone use caused problems with any of your relationships?
- Do you experience unpleasant emotions like anger, irritability, depression, or restlessness when you can't get on your cell phone due to service problems, leaving the phone behind by accident, or another reason?
- Have you ever lost interest in other activities you used to enjoy, choosing instead to look at your cell phone?
- Do you use your cell phone in ways that are unsafe, such as looking at it while driving?
Addiction is characterized by compulsively engaging in a behavior despite the fact that the behavior is causing problems in your life, such as financial, relationship, or physical or mental health problems. If you're truly addicted to your phone, you may need professional help to curb your use.
Tips to End a Cell Phone Addiction
If your cell phone use is problematic, there are a number of things you can do to end your addiction.
Get professional help. If you've repeatedly tried and failed to reduce your phone use, you may have an underlying issue that needs to be addressed through therapy, such as avoidance behaviors, chronic stress, or a mental illness like anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Therapy can help, and it can improve other areas of your life as well.
Use an app. An app like Checky will keep track of how many times you check your phone each day. Being aware of how often you use your phone and when you tend to check it the most can help you be more mindful about curbing your use.
Set limits. Once you know how often you check your phone, try to reduce that time by setting realistic limits, such as only checking it for 15 minutes at a time, five times a day. Set an alarm, and when the alarm goes off, put your phone away.
Do something else instead. Whenever you reach for your phone out of habit or boredom, ask yourself if there's something else productive you should do instead, such as pay a bill or pick up the house. Then, do it. Once you're done, you can reward yourself with a little time on your phone.
Turn it off, or lock it up. If you tend to turn to your cell phone when you should be working, listening in class, or paying attention to friends or family, turn the phone off or put it in a drawer. Then, try to forget about it while you go about your business. Make a habit to turn off your phone or leave it behind during meals, while you're in the bathroom, and while you're in the car.
Kill your notifications. If your phone notifies you every time you get a text, email, or other message and whenever any activity occurs on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media site, it may help to shut off all notifications that aren't essential.
Let your friends and family know you're cutting down. If you respond to all messages, including social media messages, in record time, it may help to let your friends and family know that you're cutting down on using your phone and to not expect immediate responses anymore. That'll help prevent you from getting antsy or stressed when you don't have your phone nearby.
Cell phone addiction can really take a toll on your quality of life, and it can lead to anxiety and depression. Make a point to reduce your cell phone use and enjoy the more important things in life, such as friends, family, and your hobbies. You'll be a lot happier, we guarantee it.