The average smartphone user touches their phones (swipes, clicks, types and taps)
2,617 times a day (dscout, 2017).
Am I addicted to my smartphone?
I just completed a quiz on whether I am addicted to my smartphone. According to the results, we are ‘almost inseparable and need to evaluate how much time we spend together’ (Time To Log Off). Addicted to my smartphone? How did that happen?
I didn’t think we were inseparable, though I must admit I hardly ever go out without my smartphone. How much time is normal to spend with your smartphone? According to a study by Huawei and deciBel Research (2017) the average Australian spends at least 2.5 hours a day on their mobile phones, or 38 days a year. That doesn’t seem excessive, though at times I have experienced some obsessive behaviour around my phone use. I react to each alert or vibration and check my phone too frequently. Sometimes I even check it when I don’t receive an alert. I’m also one of the thirty-five percent of Australians who check their phones within five minutes of waking up in the morning. But I’m not one of the 70 percent who use phones during mealtimes with family and friends (Deloitte Australia, 2017). So there’s hope for me yet.
What does being addicted to your smartphone mean exactly?
You probably use your phone excessively or spend more time than you want to on your phone. You may have tried unsuccessfully to cut down on your phone use. It may be harder than you expected to go without your phone. You may even experience anxiety when you’re without your phone. Despite having negative effects on your life and relationships, you may continue your phone habits. You may be obsessive about your phone or compulsive in your use.
Time for an assessment of your smartphone use
Is it time for an assessment of your smartphone use? How much time are you spending on your smartphone? How relaxed or stressed do you feel when using your phone? Is it enhancing your life or detracting from it in some ways? How does it affect other people around you?
Do you have control over your smartphone use? Or, does it control you?
A worldwide survey of more than 51,500 mobile phone users across 33 countries (Deloitte Australia, 2017) found that people are using their mobile phones everywhere, at any time. 74 percent of men said they had their phone on hand throughout the entire day, compared to 60 percent of women. Smartphones have been cited as a major source of discontent in relationships. The survey found that many people perceived their mobile phone use as problematic and 44 percent were trying to reduce or limit their use.
Why am I addicted to my smartphone?
Research by American neuroscientist Dr Adam Gazzaley and research psychologist Dr Larry Rosen focused on why people get addicted to their phones. They explain the process. Humans seek information in much the same “way animals forage for food, which we view as a reward—and it wouldn’t be a problem if technology didn’t give us unprecedented access to that information. When unlimited patches of information are literally on you, in your pocket or on your wrist, it’s too easy to keep seeking out more. The trigger for your habit is constantly present—and the habit is constantly reinforced.” (Evelyn Spence’s Interview with Gazzaley, Prevention, 2017). This way it gets hardwired into your brain. All habits, good or bad, follow this loop. And the stronger the loop is, the harder it is to break.
According to recent research, too much mobile phone use can cause stress and anxiety. So, if your smartphone use is stressing you out, it may be time to get in under control.
What can you do about your smartphone addiction?
- Assess your smartphone use. How does it enhance your life and how does it detract from your life?
- Do you want to make any adjustments to how much time you spend on your phone? Why is that important to you? What will you do with this time instead?
- Do you want to make any adjustments to the context in which you use your phone? Where and when is it appropriate to use your phone? Make some boundaries around your phone use and keep to them. Schedule your phone use to a time that you decide beforehand will be optimal and won’t interfere with other plans. Keep your phone in an area that is not your bedroom as there is a detrimental impact of blue light on your sleep patterns. It is also recommended that people have technology-free time an hour before bedtime.
- Take time during the day to reset your overloaded brain. Do this periodically through meditation, walking in nature, listening to music or viewing art you like (Rosen, 2016)
- Focus on things that matter and carry through with them, without distraction (Gazzaley & Rosen, 2016).
Do I need to break up with my smartphone? Probably not, as I value having the information to hand and being able to communicate swiftly and easily. I have had some success with getting my obsessive behaviours back in order, and reclaiming some of the time that previously seemed to disappear on the screen. Refocusing on what is important in life makes a difference. And if you do want to break up with your smartphone, best to send a text message!
Links to other articles by Linda Magson that may help
How to break a bad habit
Follow this link for a free smartphone addiction quiz by Time To Log Off and resources to help you do a Digital Detox.
Deloitte Australia (2017). Mobile Consumer Survey. https://www2.deloitte.com/au/mobile-consumer-survey
Dscout (2017). Putting a finger on our phone obsession.
Evelyn Spence (December 15,2017). 6 Notoriously Bad habits and how to break them (for good). Health – Prevention Australia.
Gazzaley & Rosen. The Distracted Mind (2016). MIT Press. Short video. https://youtu.be/AkesEzSn1zI
Take Time to Log Off. “Am I addicted to my smartphone quiz?”