Virtually everyone today uses a cell phone. While it comes in handy to make important calls and even indulge in some entertaining games and social media actions, using it can also become an addiction
How many of you have witnessed families in restaurants sitting around a table using their cell phones instead of talking? What about your own behavior? Perhaps you’re constantly thinking about what’s unfolding in the cell phone world the moment you leave it in another room. Read on to learn some of the major signs of cell phone addiction, as well as tips to overcome your constant reliance on the technology.
1. You’re always checking it in case you miss out
If you check your phone all the time because you worry about missing out on information (about anything from a friend’s relationship updates to world events), you may have social media anxiety which experts refer to as “FOMO.” FOMO—a popular Twitter hashtag which stands for “Fear of Missing Out”—is a very real thing.
When researchers asked hundreds of students questions to gauge their social media use and their levels of depression, anxiety and sleep quality, it was found that the students’ well-being suffered due to pressure to remain privy to the latest social media happenings. From concerns about improving their general knowledge to feeling as though they need to respond immediately, many people reported feeling like they’re on call 24/7 (and as a result, admitted to checking their phones all the time).
2. You text while driving, even though you know it’s dangerous
Texting while driving is banned in virtually all states due to vehicular accidents—including ones that lead to death of the driver and/or occupants of another car. So serious is texting while driving that it’s considered to be a form of distracted driving, which is responsible for millions of deaths and thousands of injuries each year in the United States.
Nevertheless, people continue to text at the wheel, their heads bowed down only to periodically pop up to check on a changing traffic light or nearby police car. If this sounds like you—engaging in a risky behavior while remaining aware of the possible dangerous repercussions—you’re likely addicted to your cell phone.
3. You panic if you forgot your phone
If you’ve ever accidentally left your phone at home while en route to meet friends for dinner and felt lingering pangs of panic and anxiety throughout the entire evening, you could have a cell phone addiction. Constantly thinking of what status updates are unfolding or emails are accumulating (instead of enjoying time with friends) indicates a serious dependency on your phone. Furthermore, if you’ve arrived late to a get-together because you opted to go back for your phone, you’re clearly uneasy parting with the device. This must-have-now “need” is something experts say is similar to experiences of people who are addicted to things like food or alcohol.
4. You sleep with your cell phone
If your bed includes your cell phone in addition to your pillow and a cuddly cat or significant other, that’s another indication you’re addicted. Your bed should be a peaceful haven that brings you adequate rest so you feel refreshed upon waking the next day. But if you keep your phone tucked under a pillow or find yourself waking up with your phone inches from your hand, you’re probably inclined to check a slew of social media updates, and your email, and the weather app and…. you see where this is going.
5. You rely on your phone to go about your day—and your life
If you have dozens of apps in which you’re doing everything from entering what food you ate to how many miles you drove, followed by calendar notations indicating when your next doctor’s appointment and date night will be, you’re likely relying on your phone way too much. If you must turn to your phone to essentially dictate your next move, or feel as though you must provide an image or update about your meal, bath time, lawn-mowing experience and ladybug sighting, then consider making changes to better yourself.
6. Tips to overcome cell phone addiction
To reduce the anxiety that comes with cell phone addiction and restore balance in your life, make small changes that will produce significant improvements.
For example, rather than sleeping with your phone, put it on the nightstand. Even better, keep it on a dresser on the other side of the bedroom so you’re less inclined to reach over and start scrolling. Experts also suggest not using your cell phone as an alarm clock. Doing so will make you more prone to continue holding your phone and using it. Once the temptation is already there, it might be hard to put it down.
While driving, be sure to go hands-free with your phone. Instead of texting, consider making a phone call, or (ideally) wait until you arrive at your destination to contact your friends or coworkers. Odds are, you’ll find that your thoughts could have waited without consequence.
Also, just as some people do when they’re trying to lose weight and want to keep unhealthy food at bay, you might consider asking a roommate or spouse to take the temptation away for a few hours. In this case, a trusted person simply takes your phone and puts it in an area out of sight and unknown to you, only to return it to you a couple of hours later. Some people feel they need another person to step in since they don’t trust themselves to refrain from giving into their cell phone addiction.
In time, you’ll find you’re more relaxed and even more productive. Without so much pressure to engage via your cell phone, you’ll free up time to focus other things that are very important: yourself, your friends, and your family.