It’s the age of the smart device, there’s no denying that. Smartphones have become an integral part of daily life. Without a smartphone, you are cut off from the world. Your bills, alerts from your children’s schools, news, directions and email are all delivered via these handheld devices.
That’s great, but how much is too much of a good thing?
Every day all over the world, millions of people, some as young as 8, are spending between 2 and 3 hours a day engaged with a plasma screen. By the time they are teenagers, this amount has increased to 6 hours.
Research conducted on 95 random smartphone users recorded an average of 2617 smartphone touches per day, per person – that’s swipes, taps, types and clicks. Although, this isn’t ideal, it’s not a problem until it has a negative impact on their lives.
What it is Smartphone Addiction?
So, knowing that those who suffer from the ‘disease of more’ are inclined to indulge on a much grander scale than the norm, how is smartphone addiction defined?
Smartphone addiction, also called screen addiction, is in the category referred to as process addictions. There are no physical symptoms associated with it since there are no harmful chemicals involved. This makes it harder to diagnose.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you could be addicted to your smartphone:
- Tasks at work or home are being left undone – you lose track of time due to chatting, texting or browsing on your smartphone or you’d rather spend time engaged in these activities than getting on with what you need to do.
- Your offline social life has dwindled to almost nil.
- You lose track of what people are saying as you are either checking your phone or thinking about your next session.
- Your friend and family have expressed concern about your smartphone usage.
- You feel like your online friends are the only people that you can relate to.
- You hide your smartphone use.
- You feel irritated if anything interrupts you while you are online
- You experiencing overwhelming FOMO (fear of missing out) if you haven’t checked your phone for a while.
- You keep your phone next to your bed and check it during the night.
- You imagine messages coming through.
- You panic if you are without your phone.
- Your mobile phone bill is spiralling out of control.
- Not convinced, try going without your phone for a few days and look out for the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Restlessness, anger or irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Craving access to the device
If you feel that you may have a problem with smartphone addiction, help is available.
What Kind of Therapy Works?
Smartphone addiction does not usually require in-house treatment and is usually managed with an outpatient program, individual counselling and 12-step meetings. A mental health counsellor will work with you to address your dependence on technology.
Some of the issues you will learn to resolve include:
Feelings of self-importance
Do you feel that people rely on your instant response to messages? There are very few instances where work-related matters can’t wait until office hours. If something was urgent, surely the person would call? A counselor will help to relieve you of this delusion.
Being in the moment
Many addicts use substances like alcohol and drugs to escape from reality. Having your mind wander away from real life to the intangible online world is the same thing. A mental health professional will teach your exercises to stay focussed on where you are right now.
Reaching for your phone as a response to triggers in your environment
Working with your counselor, you will learn to identify triggers that make you reach for your phone. They will teach you to combat aspects like boredom or loneliness without the use of technology.
Every addict has their own reasons for what they do, working with your counsellor you will come up with a solution for a better life free of dependence on your smartphone.
Where to Find a Mental Health Counsellor
If you want help with cutting the ties to your smartphone, ask your doctor for advice or check out our options in Cape Town, South Africa. Alternatively, contact a rehabilitation centre near you to ask about their out-patient treatment programs for process addiction