The age of smartphones has made the world a little smaller, information easier to find, and many people are more productive. Since these phones can basically do everything a computer can do, they can also fit in our pockets, making them very convenient in our daily lives. However, smartphones also have a dark side. If you use your phone compulsively and feel anxious when your phone isn’t nearby, you might be a smartphone addict.
What Is Smartphone Addiction?
Like any other kind of addiction, those addicted to their phones don’t just use them to check email, find a recipe on the web, or play a game while in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Addicts use their phones much more than the average person. They always have to check their social media feeds to keep up with what’s happening and maintain online relationships. They’re also constantly searching the internet for even the most trivial pieces of information. Sometimes they waste hours playing video games on their phone, losing valuable productivity at work or school, and neglecting duties at home as well. Smartphone addiction is related to, but not the same as, internet addiction disorder. While the two are considered separate addictions, there is considerable overlap between the two.
Like every other addiction, smartphone addicts can face a range of consequences, ranging from lost productivity at work to increased depression and even physical changes in the brain. Recent studies have shown that people who compulsively use their smartphones are changing the physical structure of their brain a negative way. Research suggests that addicts may have slower neurotransmitters that affect basic executive function – which includes everything from planning future tasks to a poor attention span.
Overcoming Smartphone Addiction
Just because you’re a smartphone addict now, doesn’t mean there’s no hope for you in the future. In fact, the vast majority of people hooked on their mobile devices can wean themselves from their phones without needing to seek professional help. The key is not to go cold turkey. Start with going small intervals of time without checking your phone, like ten or fifteen minutes. As you get more comfortable, increase those times until you can get up to one hour. Also, delete apps that might be luring you to your smartphone more, like games, social media apps, and others. It’ll be easier to avoid apps that aren’t on your phone to begin with.
Another way to kick the phone habit is to replace it with healthier habits. For example, you can start running for thirty minutes every day, without your smartphone. Not only will you get more exercise, but you’ll also be increasing the time you can go without the need to use your phone. Other good replacement activities include reading, other forms of exercise, getting together with friends, and so forth. Replacing negative habits with positive ones can speed up the recovery process.But what if, despite all your best efforts, you still can’t beat your addiction? Then it might be time to seek the help of a professional therapist. A therapist will be able to get to the root of your addiction and give you the tools to overcome it. Further, your therapist will provide you with ongoing support and encouragement for those times when you might relapse or become depressed.
Smartphones are a double-edged sword: they can be wonderful productivity tools if used correctly, but they can also become very addictive. Smartphone addicts come from all walks of life. The first step to recovering is to realize that you have a problem and then take steps to solve that problem.