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You might be wondering why anyone would write an article on how to stop being addicted to your phone. Is smartphone addiction even a real thing? You’ve probably seen videos of people who were so engrossed in looking at their Facebook or Insta feed that they bumped into a glass door or even fell into an open manhole on the sidewalk.

A lot of people might find that humorous. But for some people, smartphone addiction is anything but a laughing matter. They simply can’t put down their smartphone for anything – not walking, not eating, not even driving. An addiction to a smartphone can be a serious – and potentially dangerous – issue.

Here’s a look at some of the problems that can be caused by excessive smartphone use, and tips to reduce your reliance on your cell phone, games, and social media apps. You’ll also learn what to do if you feel you or someone you love has a smartphone addiction that has become out of control.

Can Too Much Phone Usage Affect Your Cognitive Abilities?

busy woman on phone | Unify HealthAccording to University of Texas researchers, having a smartphone within reach could have an impact on cognition, or the brain’s ability to process and hold data.

They studied 800 smartphone users to see how they would perform tasks when their phones were either in reach or in another room. All study participants were asked to take several tests that required their full attention. According to the results, the people who took the tests while their phones were in a separate room performed far better than those who were asked to place their phones face down on their desk.1

The researchers believe that simply having a smartphone within reach may substantially impair cognition. This seems to be the case even when someone feels they’re paying complete attention to a task. The conscious mind, they believe, isn’t actively thinking about the phone. But the mere act of telling yourself not to think about your smartphone is a drain on the brain’s cognitive capacity.2

Try These Tips, Tricks, And Habits: How To Stop Being Addicted To Your Phone

It can be hard for a lot of people with a cell phone addiction, or an addiction to Facebook or other social media apps, to imagine being without their phone for even a few minutes. They devote a lot of time and energy into their social media apps. If you feel anxious when you’re without your phone, there are a few options that could help reduce your dependence on your device.

Ways To Make Your Smartphone Less Tempting To Use

digital detox | Unify HealthThis might be the hardest thing for someone with a smartphone addiction to do. But as alluring as your mobile phone might be, setting some limits may just help. For example, you could try taking your router offline on the weekend, or change to a smaller phone that doesn’t have as many bells and whistles. Putting your phone in airplane mode will remove some of its functionality – and might also remove a good bit of temptation.3

If you have a particular app you just can’t live without, either delete the app or move it into a folder that’s not so prominently displayed on your screen. Finally, there are a lot of smartphone usage apps you can download. If you try one and see just how much time you spend on your phone, that could be a motivating factor to stop using it so much.4

Take Some Time During Each Day To Do Absolutely Nothing

Have you ever stepped away from the desk for a few moments during the workday to completely relax and do nothing? Have you taken time to completely clear your mind? If not, you might want to give it a try. Instead of trying to cram as much as you can into every single minute of the day, carve out some quiet time. Take some deep breaths and just look outside at the sky, or a tree across the street.

Take a walk around your office building or around the neighborhood. Whatever it takes to create separation from your self-expectations, do it. You might find yourself savoring the day a little bit more, and you might find that social media app isn’t quite as important as you thought.

Make The Bedroom A Technology-Free Zone

phones in bed | Unify Health

Do you take your smartphone to bed, continually checking messages and apps all the way until it’s time to go to sleep? If you do, you might be damaging your sleep quality. Smartphones and similar devices emit blue light. This type of light stimulates the production of a hormone known as cortisol.5

When this happens, that’s a sign to your brain that it needs to remain alert. You’ll not only have less sleep as a result, you’ll be restless most of the night. This could lead to you not being as sharp as usual the next day.6

Information About Cell Phone Usage And Cell Phone Addiction: How Does It Start?

smartphone usage | Unify HealthSo, how does smartphone addiction, or, for that matter, internet addiction begin? What causes it? When someone has a problem leaving their desktop or laptop computer, they might have an even more difficult time putting down their smartphone or tablet. The simple reason is you can take them wherever you go. You can access Facebook/Insta/Twitter/Snapchat in your home, your car, at the beach, or anywhere else.

For some people, technological devices stimulate a chemical in the brain known as dopamine, which makes you feel good. The problem with this chemical is that you can easily build up a tolerance. You need to spend more time looking at the screen to get the same effect.7

But phone addiction can also be a symptom of an underlying issue affecting your mental health, such as low mood or anxiety. Some people look to their smartphone as a sort of security blanket that helps them deal with those issues. But that only cuts them off from the outside world, and real interactions with other people. The solution for their anxiety could very well make that anxiety worse.8

How can you tell if you have a phone addiction? If you can answer “yes” to at least four of the following questions, your phone use may be a severe problem.

  • smartphone addiction | Unify HealthHave you repeatedly tried to reduce your phone usage, only to fail each time?
  • Has your phone use endangered your job or a relationship?
  • When you feel depressed or anxious, do you immediately turn to your smartphone?
  • Does your excessive cell phone use cause you to lose track of time?
  • Are you preoccupied with your cell phone?
  • Do you feel anxiety when you can’t access your phone, or when you lose service?
  • Do you have feelings of irritability, restlessness, tension, or anger when you can’t use your phone?9

Getting Help For A Phone Addiction

Just like any other type of behavioral addiction, there is help available if you think that you, or someone close to you, is a smartphone addict. There are times where therapy can help address other issues that could affect phone usage. Therapy can sometimes be effective in turning unhealthy behaviors and thoughts into healthy ones.10

This isn’t to say that everyone who relies on their smartphone is addicted to it. But if you find that your phone use is having a negative impact on your relationships or career, it might be time to speak to a mental health professional.

Learn More:
Tips For Living A Healthy Balanced Life
Prepping Food For Healthy Eating During Quarantine
De-Stress And Relax Your Mind: How To De-Stress After Work

Sources
1 https://www.newswise.com/articles/the-mere-presence-of-your-smartphone-reduces-brain-power-study-shows
2 https://www.newswise.com/articles/the-mere-presence-of-your-smartphone-reduces-brain-power-study-shows
3 https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/313942
4 https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/313942
5 https://hbr.org/2018/03/5-ways-to-counteract-your-smartphone-addiction
6 https://hbr.org/2018/03/5-ways-to-counteract-your-smartphone-addiction
7 https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addictions/smartphone-addiction.htm
8 https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addictions/smartphone-addiction.htm
9 https://www.psychguides.com/behavioral-disorders/cell-phone-addiction/signs-and-symptoms/
10 https://www.psychguides.com/behavioral-disorders/smart-phone-addiction