Are you an addict? Telltale signs of smartphone addiction

May 2, 2013

toilet

Hi, my name is Simon and I’m a smartphone addict. It has been ten seconds since I last touched my phone. I check email on the toilet, I watch videos at the dinner table, I nod agreement at my wife and kids over that hypnotizing display and half the time I have no idea what they just said. I check my phone at traffic lights, at the supermarket checkout, even in bed I tease that little screen to life and have my wicked way with it. If it buzzes I will check it regardless of the fact I am in mid-conversation with someone. I feel better when my phone is close by.

Last night, while watching a movie, I actually felt my heart skip a beat as I glanced at the arm of the couch and my phone was not in its customary spot. I immediately imagined my mischievous three year-old might have gotten a hold of it (he desperately wants my phone all the time, presumably because I spend countless hours staring at it), but I needn’t have worried. Do you know where it was? Can you predict where I found it, dear reader? It was in my hand the whole time. That’s right; I was looking for the phone in my hand. I think I may have hit rock bottom. I think I may be a smartphone addict, and if you recognize yourself in any of what I just told you, then you might be too.

Stats of addiction

According to a study conducted by IDC, and funded by Facebook, 62% of people reach for their smartphone as soon as they wake up in the morning. 89% of 18-24 year-olds use it within 15 minutes of waking. During an average day 79% of people have their smartphone on or near them for all but two hours of the day. 25% of people have it with them continuously, 24/7. We check them while shopping, running errands, cooking dinner, working out, eating, in meetings or classes, during movies, at live gigs, and even while on the toilet. They make us feel connected, but connected to what?

This level of attachment can’t be a good thing. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. It’s supposed to unburden us. Are you in control of your smartphone use, or is it bossing you? Addiction is defined as a “persistent, compulsive dependence”. Can you do without your phone? Many people fear being without their smartphone. British researchers coined the term nomophobia in 2008 to describe a fear of losing your mobile. A study by SecurEnvoy found that 66% of people fear being without their mobile phone.

What are we doing with our smartphones?

What do we actually do on our smartphones that’s so compelling? Well, for the most part we read email, or more accurately, compulsively check if a new email has arrived, in the forlorn hope that an incredibly exciting missive will somehow have found its way into our inbox alongside the bureaucracy of work and the mountain of spam (psychologists call this “variable ratio reinforcement” and it’s the same thing that keeps people playing slot machines in search of that thrilling pay-off). If we aren’t checking email we’re tuning in to Facebook to read messages from people we can’t be bothered to see in real life and to post our latest thoughts, or more accurately, compulsively check what the people we can’t be bothered to see in real life thought about our latest thoughts (I’m aware this might just be me).

smartphone

We also browse the web and play games a lot; sometimes we’ll take pictures, check directions, or watch videos. The one thing we hardly ever do is actually make phone calls.

It’s not so much the device itself that we’re addicted to, but rather what it allows us to do. But what is this easy access to communication and entertainment doing to us? Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, amongst other things, thinks that the smartphone is dangerous. He said, “By design, it’s an environment of almost constant interruptions and distractions. The smartphone, more than any other gadget, steals from us the opportunity to maintain our attention, to engage in contemplation and reflection, or even to be alone with our thoughts.”

How to tell if you’re an addict

Since this is AA, albeit a different kind of AA, we thought we’d offer up some telltale signs of smartphone addiction so you can test yourself.

  1. Do you reach for your smartphone first thing in the morning?
  2. Do you check your smartphone last thing at night?
  3. Do you break off conversation to check your smartphone immediately when a new notification comes in?
  4. Do you take your smartphone to the bathroom with you?
  5. Do you sometimes play with your smartphone while people are talking to you?
  6. Do you constantly find new uses for your smartphone to legitimize your attachment?
  7. Do you check your smartphone while watching a movie at the cinema?
  8. Do you refuse to ever turn your smartphone off?
  9. Do you keep your smartphone visible and within reach at all times?
  10. Do you sometimes just look at your smartphone even although it isn’t doing anything?
  11. Do you panic when you misplace your phone, even for a minute?
  12. Do you have to charge your smartphone more than once a day?

If you racked up more than nine yesses then you need to check yourself into the nearest clinic for a digital detox.

If you scored between five and eight yesses then there’s still hope for you, but you need to act now.

If you scored four or fewer yesses then relax, your smartphone hasn’t taken over your life just yet.

How to quit your smartphone

The thorny issue of how to wean yourself off the smartphone is tough. My problem is that I used my smartphone to quit smoking. It gives you something to do with your hands, it’s the perfect filler for awkward social situations, or when waiting for five minutes, and it can serve as a wee break from whatever you are doing, just like smokes. I’m sure I could quit the smartphone if I started smoking again!

You have to try and wean yourself off it gradually and it’s not an all or nothing deal. As smartphone addicts we just need to reduce our dependence and cut out the anti-social behavior. If you’ve ever been talking to someone and they took their phone out and started focusing on it instead of you, didn’t that make you feel like slapping it out of their hand? Well, there’s a good chance people feel that way when you do it. Try imposing time limits. Start by introducing a ten minute period where you’re not allowed to touch your smartphone, regardless of notifications, and gradually increase it to a half hour and beyond. You’ll soon develop the ability to ignore it when it would be impolite not to.

If you find that you are a hopeless addict then throw your smartphone in the nearest trash immediately…..on second thoughts you can just send it to AA and we’ll see that it’s disposed of responsibly.

In the true spirit of AA please share your smartphone addiction stories, the more humiliating the better, in the comments below, and let’s see if we can’t beat this thing.

Comments

  • George

    Guilty at everything! :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/StarSailorVarun Varun Bansal

    O man! I’ve scored perfect 12 yupssss.. ridiculous !!
    Now only GOD can save me..!!
    Give me google glass plz!!;-) :-P

  • adi132

    10 yesses, NOOOOO!

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnphillip.saayman John-Phillip Saayman

    This is a good article. I’m afraid I have more than 5 yesses. I’m borderline addicted. Aaaaahhhh

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnphillip.saayman John-Phillip Saayman

    My heart also gives a jump when I thought it was somewhere and it isn’t. Definitely have that nomophobia

  • Arch Thor

    Oh well… Not 12 yesses, but 9 yesses, 2 maybes and 1 no (checking phone during a movie) I though I would be 12 out of 12, so now I know what I need to improve lol

  • Arsenal™

    9 Yesses! o.O

  • http://www.facebook.com/harvey.wallbanger.9212 Harvey Wallbanger

    Entertaining, but not to be taken seriously. You can plug in other pillars of life outside of food, clothing, and shelter and make similar hyperbolic assertions. Television, radio, Internet, computers, automobiles among other technologies were each subjects of similar articles after people reflected upon the fact that they weren’t going away.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bexy1985 Bex Foster

    10 for me. Possibly because I don’t go to the cinema though and I charge my phone only once per day lol.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Trent8381 Trent Richards

    Love my smartphone and tablet immensely, but I can only answer yes to 4, 8 and 9. I have refused to turn off my cell phone since long before the age of smartphones. What if someone needs to reach me for an emergency? Is there something more important in the bathroom that you shouldn’t be using your smartphone? Yes I keep my phone with me or near me most of the time. Isn’t that the point of a cell phone?

  • Balraj

    8 out of 12
    I’m ok but not critical !!!
    But what to do..my phone got lots of my personal files,I chat with friends a lot..
    I hope I don’t reach the critical stage

  • Alan Shearer

    The big question is this one, does your smart phone interrupt your interaction in face to face conversations? Does it interrupt you while doing things with people? If so then yes you are addicted.

  • http://profiles.google.com/daniel.l.nguyen Daniel Nguyen

    i get bored at looking at my smartphone sometimes

    i got 3 or 4 yesses

  • Klaatu Nikto

    Read this on the toilet.

    • David Brymer

      haha

    • ICC-fanatic

      No seriously, I really did. Scary :-/

  • Jeff Bennett

    I think the fact we read android authority probably means we are addicts. Can’t believe I’m guilty of #10 though. Ha

  • Patrick Lyddy

    I will freely admit my addiction to my smartphone but I scored less than nine on that little list there. If my “phone”, which is a Note2 btw, wasn’t so integrated into both my personal and professional lives, then I wouldn’t be an addict. I have no real need outside of G+ to do anything on my phone. My job, however, requires me to be connected 24/7 giving little room to have my phone not on my person. It’s also my alarm clock for sleeping, my scheduler and time keeper, and note pad. All of that leads to an addiction of organization and productivity…not so much the phone.

    • Androidian

      I’m sorry to say this but you need therapy :(

  • OMGgary

    Moar pics of girls on toilet plz!

  • http://twitter.com/gommerthus gommer strike

    scored 6 for me. Being completely off of the smartphone is not an option for some of us, who are on-call(requirement of the job) and required to respond to emergency SMS messages within a 30 minute timeframe.

    It’s an addiction that many of us, by trade/career, cannot break.

  • http://twitter.com/LiiIiikEaBau5 LiiIiikEaBau5

    I do play Snooker while i’m in toilet! Offcourse with my Phone!
    Let’s me advertise Android, i use Nexus 4!

  • Sammy

    Moronic article, typical of the trash from this cesspool of a blog. On a positive note, the chick taking a shit is hot as fuck

  • bobbylee Budde

    Hi my name is Bobby And I’m a addict. I Said Yes to an 12

  • Will Stewart

    Sh*t, I got all yes. I don’t know why I even turn on my phone sometimes. Surprisingly, I hardly go on Facebook on my phone.

  • nishantsirohi123

    ok
    Do you reach for your smartphone first thing in the morning?
    yes i do .. take it to toilet

    Do you check your smartphone last thing at night?
    one last time before turning it off and plugging in the charger

    Do you break off conversation to check your smartphone immediately when a new notification comes in?
    normally no, unless its a phone call

    Do you take your smartphone to the bathroom with you?
    to the toilet, yes

    Do you sometimes play with your smartphone while people are talking to you?
    No, it is mostly rotating but never looking at it

    Do you constantly find new uses for your smartphone to legitimize your attachment?
    yes, new apps, and I click pictures all the time

    Do you check your smartphone while watching a movie at the cinema?
    once or twice, after several vibrations

    Do you refuse to ever turn your smartphone off?
    I regularly turn it off when i go to sleep

    Do you keep your smartphone visible and within reach at all times?
    yes

    Do you sometimes just look at your smartphone even although it isn’t doing anything?

    Do you panic when you misplace your phone, even for a minute?
    yes, it is an unlocked device, i paid the entire amount, my hard earned money

    Do you have to charge your smartphone more than once a day?
    yes twice

  • David Brymer

    but its not my fault, i blame htc for making the most beautiful phone ever [htc one] , but yes i can finally say i got full marks, 100 percent …….get in

  • luigi

    lol I scored 7 thanks god :D

    number 3, 6, 7, 8, 11, I choosed NO.

    for num 9. Do you keep your smartphone visible and within reach at all times?
    YES but only at night especially when there’s electricity blackout in my area. :)

  • whoknowswhereor

    99% of all phones have fecal matter on them. Ewwwwww ^_^

    welcome you AA members.. Androids Anonymous

    • Robert Johnson

      It was 16% of British cells with fecal bacteria.

      94% of paper currency.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bunty.kumar.1694059 Bunty Kumar

    The dangers of smartphone addiction are fairly well-known,
    So, “Moodoff Day” is providing smartphone users around the world with the opportunity to bring awareness to the problem by turning off technology for five hours during International Moodoff Day on last Sunday February. This year’s slogan is “Smart hours for Smart people without smartphones”.

    “Why is it called Moodoff Day?”, “Because when we ask somebody to stop browsing for a minute their entire mood is off. People discuss smartphone addiction, but the true message is getting lost in all the discussion.”
    Moodoff Day is asking smartphone users around the globe to stop using their devices for five hours on the last Sunday of February. Participants are asked to enjoy a morning without technology and to have breakfast and reconnect with family or friends face-to-face in real time rather than to browse on their smartphones.

    The Moodoff Day celebrate smartphone addiction awareness day by eliminating your smartphone, iPhone, Computer tablet, Facebook, Twitter, and so on for five hours. So, why five hours? It is simply because four hours is not enough and six hours is very impossible to attain. Turning off your mobile devices for about 5 hours won’t kill you. This really is just the way to let you aware on how you become so dependent in intelligent telephone as well as other latest technologies accessible.

    It’s simple, A morning without technology once in a year.

  • awk

    That seems a bit silly…

    1-Do you reach for your smartphone first thing in the morning?

    It’s my alarm clock! (and it is for most people)

    2-Do you check your smartphone last thing at night?

    To check if my alarm clock’s on, I don’t want to lose my job! Also, weather for the next day is a nice thing to do when talking and planning your next evening out before bedtime.

    3-Do you break off conversation to check your smartphone immediately when a new notification comes in?

    Depends on the notification, and the conversation. It makes sense to read a text in a middle of a mundane conversation, imo.

    4-Do you take your smartphone to the bathroom with you?

    what else are you going to do in there, eh! I brought books with me long before I had a phone. Just because it’s on paper instead of a screen doesn’t make the content more “noble”.

    5-Do you sometimes play with your smartphone while people are talking to you?

    Again, sometimes ok (depends on the importance of the conversation) Idle chatter with friends while hanging around? What’s wrong with a little game at the same time?

    6-Do you constantly find new uses for your smartphone to legitimize your attachment?

    Is it that or is it just that their are often new interesting uses that pop up? People are busting their brains trying to find new uses for it for you to buy.

    7-Do you check your smartphone while watching a movie at the cinema?

    Ok, I don’t do that. I know some people who do, but mainly because they do it at home too and can’t just watch a movie. I like movies so I don’t.

    8-Do you refuse to ever turn your smartphone off?

    Why would you? I mean they’re made to not need it. Would you ever plug your landline off? That doesn’t make sense.

    9-Do you keep your smartphone visible and within reach at all times?

    1 – it’s an expensive piece of technology, that contains your info and is easily stealable. You better keep it visible.

    2 – At home it can be different, but at work, when using it to keep in touch with your family etc, what is wrong with that?

    10-Do you sometimes just look at your smartphone even although it isn’t doing anything?

    Those things are made to attract just by their design, that’s how they get people to buy them so often even though their old ones worked fine. Blame the designers! I sometimes see people on the train or whatever just looking at their app drawer and scrolling pages and quite frankly that makes me sad. I just want to tell them about great games they could be playing on it instead.

    11-Do you panic when you misplace your phone, even for a minute?

    see 9)

    12-Do you have to charge your smartphone more than once a day?

    No, but I’m lucky to have a phone with good battery life. Not everyone has that chance!

    That said, here’s a list of things that would really be worrying:

    1- Would you rather stay home on your phone than go out and do something new?

    2- Do you spend more than 100 $ a month on apps and content?

    3- Have you ever left an event /workplace /went home because you realized you forgot your phone?

    4- Have you ever compromised your real life relationships for things you do on your phone?

    5- Do you find that you crave the next version of hardware even though all you do is facebook and angry birds, and that they both work on a 2010 low end device?

    6- Have you ever had to borrow money or take it from savings to buy phone related things?

    7- Would any aspect of your life really be affected by not having your phone with you? (If you answer no to this but still feel the need to have your phone with you at all times, it might be a problem.)

    8- Did you give up hobbies or activities since you’ve been interested in phones?

    Answer these and you might actually have to worry.

  • SRow

    Ha, this pretty much sums it up: addictedtechi.com

    • SRow

      addictedtechie.com

  • Romjan Dhayan

    I once addicted with smartphone but not now.

    http://tech-world-rati.blogspot.com/