Chances are good that you’re reading this article on a smartphone, and you are probably not alone.
The average adult in the U.S spent 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018. Drawing that out even further, the average human will spend 6 years and 8 months on social media in his or her lifetime based on projections for social media use in 2019.
Some people won’t bat an eye at those statistics. However, others are prone to recognize the overuse of their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.
Step one of any addiction is acknowledging that you have a problem. For those that question whether or not their device use has morphed into an addiction, we have outlined five important things to consider as you explore the answer.
1. Take the test
For those who feel they may be addicted to social media, it’s no surprise that social sites are rife with quizzes about everything under the sun.
There is also a test to see whether or not you may have a problematic relationship with your device. The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine created the Smartphone Compulsion Test. Those who take the test and answer “yes” to more than five of those questions may indeed have a problem with device addiction.
2. Social media apps are designed to build a psychological craving
You read that correctly. The developers of social media platforms and apps actual use gambling methods to make their sites more addictive and create dependencies. When people mindlessly reach for their phone or swipe down to refresh a social media feed, that is the result of expertly designed apps created to elicit those exact responses.
The creators are highly skilled in manipulating brain chemistry and locking users into a cycle of dependency. Even those who manage to disengage temporarily get snagged back in by notifications, beeps, and buzzes meant to pull people back into the cycle.
3. Smartphones have the power to alter our brains
So does the entire digital media landscape. The ubiquity of links against backgrounds of ads, and the choppy attention span required to scroll and swipe, lead people to be focused on one thing only: being distracted. Unfortunately, some of these effects are long-term and create changes in our brains that make it difficult to concentrate and remember things that we read online.
4. Phantom vibrations are real
A majority of people (80 percent) experienced phantom vibrations — a false belief that your phone is vibrating to alert you to a notification. Roughly 30 percent have reported hearing ringing that did not exist. The more people are locked into their smartphones, the more likely they are to experience these phantom vibrations.
5. Device addiction could signal something bigger
In many cases, device addiction may be symptomatic of other problems such as depression, anxiety, or even loneliness. It can also make those problems worse. For example, for people using screens to cope with loneliness, it can actually turn into a safety blanket that further isolates you from real life.
There are many avenues for help available, including psychotherapy, 12-step programs, inpatient programs, and app and social site blockers. Whether you consider yourself an addict or are just finding that you dislike how much time you are spending on devices, it’s wise to be aware of your behavior.
About the Author: Natalie Buchwald, LHMC is the founder and clinical director of Manhattan Mental Health Counseling. As a practitioner of holistic psychotherapy, Natalie’s treatment approach places an emphasis on the mind-body relationship and is both experiential and pragmatic.
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The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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