Just because you carry your smartphone with you all the time doesn’t mean you’re suffering from cell phone addiction. But at what point are you addicted? There are nine warning signs.
Phone Addiction – Does It Even Exist?
53 times a day – that’s how often smartphone users check their mobile phones on average, according to a study by the University of Bonn. We have become accustomed to participating in the lives of others via smartphone; if this connection is cut, we fear we are missing out. The British have already made up a word for the fear of being without a cell phone: Nomophobia. The term is made up of “no mobile phone” and “phobia.”
App developers fuel this fear: apps are usually programmed to activate our inner reward system. When a message appears on the display, for example, it creates a moment of surprise. Our body reacts to this and releases dopamine. The messenger substance has a motivating effect: we want more of it.
But even though smartphones can promote addiction-like behavior, cell phone addiction is not an officially recognized disease. Cell phone addiction does not appear in the official, internationally valid diagnostic criteria such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) – “Internet Gaming Disorder” (online gaming addiction).
However, experts agree that the following nine criteria for online gaming addiction can be applied to other Internet applications – including cell phones. “If five of these criteria have been met in the past twelve months, one can speak of an addiction,” says Detlef Scholz from the ESM’s Competence Center for Excessive Media Use and Media Dependence. However, he assumes that problematic behavior is present even after a period of six months.
1) Strong Mental And Emotional Involvement
Are there longer phases in which you think more about writing WhatsApp messages or Facebook post than concentrating on work? If so, this is a warning sign.
2) Withdrawal Symptoms
Cell phone left at home or battery empty – this makes most cell phone owners nervous. But if there are physical effects such as restlessness, nervousness, sweating when you can’t use your smartphone, that’s a clear alarm sign.
3) Increase In Frequency
You used to reach for your phone only once in a while to see what’s new; now you have the urge to do it all the time? If it makes you extremely dissatisfied not to give in to this urge, this is also a sign of addiction.
4) Unsuccessful Attempts At Restriction
Actually, you know that you waste too much time on your cell phone and you’ve been wishing to change that for a while, but can’t manage it? Then this is also a possible indication of a cell phone addiction.
5) Little Interest In Other Activities
If your leisure time activities change because of your cell phone, this should also be a warning. Do you meet with friends less because you prefer to sit on the couch with your cell phone and click through the Internet? Or do you no longer regularly pursue a hobby because it’s more tempting for you to chat via smartphone?
6) Excessive Use Despite Negative Consequences
You notice that there are physical consequences when you spend too much time on your cell phone – and yet you can’t put it aside. For example, you surf the net until late in the evening, even though you are completely overtired and would normally go to bed.
7) Deception Of Others
Since you realize you spend too much time on your cell phone, you start to hide this from others, such as your partner or manager or colleagues from work.
8) Escaping Negative Moods
When problems torment you or bad thoughts keep you busy, do you pick up your cell phone to run away from them?
9) Jeopardizing Your Professional Or Private Life
Has your cell phone use over a long period of time caused you to have serious problems with your partner, family, friends or co-workers? This is also a signal of addiction.
Phone Addiction: How To Test Yourself
Scholz recommends testing yourself: “You can try out on the weekend what happens when you turn off your cell phone for a day and put it away. If you can handle it well, everything is in the green. If one reacts with physical discomfort, these can be withdrawal symptoms.”
Strategies Against Phone Addiction
Wear A Watch: Scholz recommends wearing a wristwatch: “If I look at my cell phone every time I want to know what time it is, I automatically also check to see if any new messages have come in or if anyone has called. If I wear a watch on my wrist, I have no excuse to reach for my smartphone.”
Check out this Japanese stainless steel diving watch that will keep you company at all times.
Set Phone Times: “Consciously set up time windows for the smartphone,” is another tip from the therapist and educator. It makes more sense, he says, to consciously use your phone for Facebook or texting twice a day, for example, rather than constantly tapping away on it. After all, if you respond every time the phone vibrates or flashes, you’ll be constantly interrupted – at work, in a conversation, in a train of thought. If you set fixed cell phone times, you can devote yourself more effectively to your current tasks.
“It also helps to stop using your cell phone for work purposes after 6 p.m., for example,” says Scholz. The point, he says, is to consciously create quiet spaces for yourself and find time for relaxation.
iPhones also offer the “time-out” function – It can be used to define periods of time during which only calls and access to explicitly defined apps are possible – all other apps are blocked.