Smartphone addiction has become a problem for many Americans, both adults and children. With so much information available and so many ways to interact with others online, some people spend so much time on their phones that their real lives and relationships suffer as a result.
What Causes Smartphone Addiction?
Overreliance on a smartphone often starts out as a way of trying to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness or problems with real-world relationships. Using a smartphone releases dopamine in the brain, which can create a feeling similar to that caused by drugs or alcohol. Over time, a person can build up a tolerance and need more screen time to trigger the same positive feeling.
How Smartphone Addiction Can Affect Real Life
Trying to remedy emotional problems with a smartphone tends to make them worse. Spending hours a day looking at a screen keeps people from interacting with others face to face and forming meaningful connections in real life. People with smartphone addiction often find themselves feeling more stressed, anxious, and alone, but they continue to seek help from the devices that are contributing to the problem.
Excessive use of a smartphone can make it difficult to concentrate. The endless stream of texts, emails, and social media alerts, or the desire to constantly check to avoid missing out, can prevent people from focusing on work, school, their families and friends, and household tasks.
A smartphone in the bedroom can interfere with sleep. Many people check their phones when they have trouble falling asleep, but the blue light from a smartphone can make sleeping even harder.
Are You Addicted?
There is no specific amount of time per day spent using a smartphone that means someone is addicted. For many people, a smartphone is required for work and to keep in touch with family and friends. Using a phone becomes a problem when it interferes with real-world relationships and responsibilities.
If you think you may be addicted to your smartphone, recognizing the problem is the first step. It can help to keep track of how much time you spend using your phone, the time of day, and your emotional state when you reach for it to identify any triggers.
How to Deal with Smartphone Addiction
With our reliance on smartphones, addiction to the devices has become a serious problem. If your phone has started to interfere with your life, you can reduce your reliance on it and engage more with others in real life. If you aren’t sure if you have a problem, ask your family and friends for their impressions and insights.
If you’re using your phone too much, make an effort to put it down, schedule visits with family and friends, and find ways to meet new people. A therapist or support group can help you deal with underlying issues that led to your smartphone addiction and help you cope with withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, restlessness, and trouble sleeping and concentrating.