8 Ways to Know If You're Addicted to Your Phone

take back the weekend

Cell phones are an incredible tool that give us the ability to connect with one another virtually. But they are also one of the leading causes of loneliness and face-to-face disconnection. Without a balanced mindset that is free to choose when and how we use our phones, we can quickly find ourselves facing a new kind of addiction.

In fact, there’s even a word for cell phone addiction - Nomophobia. And it’s a very real thing. The University of Derby found that one in eight people are addicted to their phones. Cell phone usage can trigger dopamine surges - the feel good hormone. Artificial dopamine is found in things like cocaine and substances that try and manufacture this feel-good emotion. And while the actual hormone isn’t bad, it must be balanced. Social media apps have been specifically designed to release this hormone, creating easy mental addictions.

If this is you, there’s good news. There’s plenty of ways to break your addiction. Disciplined steps like taking a couple days off social media, turning your phone off more than it’s on, and disengaging from apps that may cause addiction.

Here’s 8 ways to know if you’re addicted.

1.Do you turn to your cell phone when feeling anxious or sad?

If your phone functions as a coping mechanism every time you feel sad, you may be using it in an unhealthy way. WebMD says “A study of more than 300 college students found heavier technology use was tied to greater risk for anxiety and depression, particularly among those using the devices as a "security blanket" -- to avoid dealing with unpleasant experiences or feelings.”

Your mind and body will turn to these devices INSTEAD of finding natural ways to cope, leading to even more anxious feelings when apart from your device.

2. Do you habitually check your phone when talking to people?

This is called “phubbing” as in phone-snubbing. If you struggle with staying interested in conversations and gravitating toward your phone whenever there is a lull in the conversation, you may struggle with being on your phone too often.

A survey done with teenagers found that nearly 44% of teenagers get frustrated when their friends are on their phone when they’re hanging out, yet an even greater portion at 54% admit they get distracted by social media when they should be paying more attention to the people that they’re with.

3. Do you feel anxious after being online?

Comparison, the pressure to perform, and the ability to know every horrible thing happening in the world at a moment’s notice can cause our mind to feel out of control, which is at the root of anxiety.

Psychology Today says “We all know that social media is the highlight reel. But it’s hard not to compare and end up feeling inadequate or defective, which, again, is the heart of social anxiety.”

If you feel anxious after checking your phone, evaluate the way you’re using it and the people you follow. Maybe it’s time to delete that news app or unfollow people that make you compare.

4. Do you have trouble sleeping?

Blue light emitted by screens can mess with the production of melatonin in your body, the hormone that triggers your desire sleep. If sleeping is an issue for you, make sure you turn off phones and computers an hour or two before bed.

5. Can you go a few hours without checking your phone?

The average person checks their phone 80 times a day. And most people admit to checking their phone even while driving, which puts others in danger.

If you’re curious, your iphone will even tell you how often you pick up your phone daily. The mental urge to touch your phone can pull at all of us, but it’s important to have set times where you practice self control.

6. Do you feel like you can’t concentrate?

Some researchers feel that too much technology usage can affect the way our brain focuses long term. According to Price, when we read digital media, the short bursts of attention that are required by scrolling and swiping and tweeting result in "an intensely focused state of distraction." If you find yourself in a state of distraction even while offline, you may be training your brain to think in that state.

7. Do you feel the need to share every moment of your life online?

If you feel a moment didn’t happen if you don’t share about it, then you may be losing present focus and need your phone too much.

8. Do you lose track of time when you are engaged in online use?

If you often look up from your phone and are surprised at how much time as passed, you are probably using your phone excessively. Doing intentional things online is sometimes necessary for work, but set aside time to finish your projects and don’t allow the ‘scroll’ to pull you in.

Even though social media addiction is a real thing with psychological affects, there is hope! Our family chooses to take two days offline a week to practice self control and balance. We call this #takebacktheweekend. We have found so much joy in being OFF our phones, that we now use our phones much more intentionally. We want to teach our children how to use the technology with responsibility. Learn more about how our family combats screen addiction here.

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