Smartphone addiction, sometimes colloquially known as “nomophobia” (fear of being without a mobile phone), is often fueled by an internet overuse problem or internet addiction disorder.
Most times, it’s rarely the phone or tablet itself that creates the compulsion, but the games, apps, and online worlds it connects us to.
If you are reading this, can you please take a minute to ask yourself, ‘how long can you stay away from your phone? If you are not convinced you can stay without a phone for at least on hour in a day, except to attend to important and urgent messages, then you may as many others be suffering from ‘Nomophobia’.
According to Helpguide.org, Smartphone addiction can encompass a variety of impulse-control problems, including:
Virtual relationships. Addiction to social networking, dating apps, texting, and messaging can extend to the point where virtual, online friends become more important than real-life relationships.
Information overload. Compulsive web surfing, watching videos, playing games, or checking news feeds can lead to lower productivity at work or school and isolate you for hours at a time.
Cybersex addiction. Compulsive use of internet pornography, sexting, nude-swapping, or adult messaging services can impact negatively on your real-life intimate relationships and overall emotional health.
Online compulsions, such as gaming, gambling, stock trading, online shopping, or bidding on auction sites like eBay can often lead to financial and job-related problems.
Step-by-step ways to modify your smartphone use
For most people, getting control over their smartphone and internet use isn’t a case of quitting cold turkey. Think of it more like going on a diet. Just as you still need to eat, you probably still need to use your phone for work, school, or to stay in touch with friends. Your goal should be to cut back to more healthy levels of use.
Helpguide.org give a step-by-step guide on how to modify smartphone use.
Set goals for when you can use your smartphone.
For example, you might schedule use for certain times of day, or you could reward yourself with a certain amount of time on your phone once you’ve completed a homework assignment or finished a chore, for instance.
Turn off your phone at certain times of the day.
This could happen when you’re driving, in a meeting, at the gym, having dinner, or playing with your kids. Don’t take your phone with you to the bathroom.
Don’t bring your phone or tablet to bed.
The blue light emitted by the screens can disrupt your sleep if used within two hours of bedtime. Turn devices off and leave them in another room overnight to charge. Instead of reading eBooks on your phone or tablet at night, pick up a book. You’ll not only sleep better but research shows you’ll also remember more of what you’ve read.
Replace your smartphone use with healthier activities.
If you are bored and lonely, resisting the urge to use your smartphone can be very difficult. Have a plan for other ways to fill the time, such as meditating, reading a book, or chatting with friends in person.
Remove social media apps from your phone.
This way, you can only check Facebook, Twitter and the like from your computer. And remember: what you see of others on social media is rarely an accurate reflection of their lives—people exaggerate the positive aspects of their lives, brushing over the doubts and disappointments that we all experience.
If you compulsively check your phone every few minutes, wean yourself off by limiting your checks to once every 15 minutes. Then once every 30 minutes, then once an hour. If you need help, there are apps that can automatically limit when you’re able to access your phone.