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Are You Addicted To Your Smartphone?

Joel Lee 21-12-2012

are you addicted to your smartphoneThe proliferation of the smartphone has plunged our world into a new era of technology dependence. At one time, landlines and payphones were all we had–and we survived just fine, thank you very much. But now, it’s almost laughable if you don’t own an iPhone or Android, and for some of us, we can’t even go a day without them.


Smartphone addiction is a real issue for modern society and, like most addictions, people who are addicted don’t truly realize how addicted they are. And even if you aren’t addicted yourself, chances are good that you know someone who is.

What Is Smartphone Addiction?

Before we can discuss smartphone addiction, we’ll need to define addiction as a term. According to my dictionary, this is what we’ve got:

ad·dic·tion [uh-DIK-shuhn]
the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma

That’s the definition we’ll be working with. And even as I typed out the definition, I could see the symptoms of addiction in myself and the people around me. I’m sure you could, too, if you looked hard enough.

are you addicted to your smartphone

“Enslavement” might be a harsh term, but no one can deny that smartphones have such an effect on people that “habitual” and “routine practice” are noteworthy terms. How many times do you take out your phone and steal a glance out of habit? Do you check your phone right after you wake up? Right before you go to sleep? Habitual, indeed.


And what about the part where “cessation causes severe trauma”? Of course, “severe trauma” is a bit vague on its own, but we all know those people who can’t be apart from their phones for more than a day, or even a few hours. Have you ever known someone who grew anxious when they lost their phone?

So in simple terms, here’s my definition: smartphone addiction is when your smartphone is so engrained in your routine life that breaking away from it causes you psychological anxiety.

Smartphone Addiction Checklist

But even if you know the definition of smartphone addiction, sometimes the reality of it can escape you. Denial, as it’s called in most addiction-fighting circles, is a very real aspect of addiction, and it can be dangerous because if you don’t believe you’re addicted, then you won’t take the steps necessary to recover.

are you addicted to your cell phone


Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if you may be addicted to your smartphone:

  • Do you check your smartphone within an hour of waking up?
  • Do you check your smartphone within an hour of going to sleep?
  • Do you check your smartphone at times without any reason?
  • Do you check your smartphone over 30 times per day?
  • Do you have to check your smartphone the moment you receive a text message or email?
  • Do you check and use your smartphone during face-to-face interactions?
  • Do you feel the urge to text, call, or social network while driving?
  • If you were asked to give up your smartphone for one week, could you do it?

How to Break Smartphone Addiction

The simplest solution would be to give up smartphones cold turkey until the addiction subsides, but that’s not always the most practical answer.

If you are addicted to your smartphone, it probably feels very automatic to you. You check your smartphone without even realizing it. One response, then, is to be very conscious of your actions. Every time you check, ask yourself, “Why am I checking?” It could be due to boredom, loneliness, or anxiety. Once you pinpoint the cause, you can find something else to alleviate the problem.

Turn off alert signals and notifications. Most text messages and emails don’t require immediate attention (unless you are working a time-sensitive job, in which case you may want to skip this suggestion). Force yourself to check your phone only once every hour, or even less often.


are you addicted to your smartphone

Turn off your phone altogether. During those times when you don’t need your phone, like during office hours, you may want to turn off your phone. This forces you to go a long period of time without even touching it, which can help to offset addiction by making you less reliant.

Find out what it is about the smartphone that’s addicting. Is it social media? Then delete your Twitter and Flickr apps. Is it social networking? Delete your Facebook app. Is it email? Disable push notifications. This way you can still use your smartphone without having it consume so many hours of your day.

If you’re addicted, it’s never too late to fight it. If you think one of your friends may be addicted, then let them know gently. Addiction can be dangerous when it starts to interfere with work, relationships, and health. You may not want to be the one who tells your friend that they’re addicted, but if they’re texting while driving, you may be the one who saves their life.


Image Credit: Smartphone Girl Via Shutterstock, Infographic Via

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  1. Matthew
    April 28, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    According to the statistics, iPhone is the evil... ;)
    I should mind buying one :D

  2. Robert Badger
    January 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I am no stranger to this addiction. I never realized how much I was addicted until my wife started PA school. Due to the overwhelming nature of school (think first two years of Med School), and other issues going on she was consumed by her phone. I swear there were a few times where I heard her call to it as "My precious..."

    I then started noticing my own addiction. I encourage "Tech Free Time." At least 24 hours a week, preferably in a row, turn the phone off! It is amazing how easy it is to talk to someone sitting right in front of you.

  3. Jason Phegley
    December 29, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    This article is a wee bit dramatic. New technology always has captivated people and expanded possibilities which IS exciting. The key being in the definition: "to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma" ... But that being said, yes it is good for the soul to take a break, soak in the natural beauty that is around us, but these devices are beautiful in and of themselves and should not be spun in a light with such a fear based stigma attached. (haha $10 says Joel gets an email notification of this post on his iPhone) =)

    • Joel Lee
      December 31, 2012 at 7:39 am

      It may seem overly dramatic to a lot of people, but smartphone addiction is a real psychological problem (it's a subtype of novelty addiction).

      And no, I got it on my Android! I'd never be caught with an iPhone. ;D

  4. Jaspreet Singh
    December 28, 2012 at 6:58 am

    I am totally addicted

  5. Roland Ugonna
    December 27, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    I cant seem to stay off blackberry messenger for an sad its a smartphone with a dumb battery.

  6. Rajaa Chowdhury
    December 26, 2012 at 5:34 am

    I am an internet addict, the medium is irrelevant for me. However, I prefer my Desktop over my smartphone for the internet, simply because of the comfortable viewing size and flash support. However, the moment am outta my desktop, am on my smartphone, browsing the net. However, I do prefer my smartphone over the desktop in one area, when I read IT & Technology related news from various sources within a single apps. It is convenient for me as I get all the sources at the same place. I use apps like Appy Geek, Pulse and Taptu for those purpose. :)

  7. Anonymous
    December 25, 2012 at 5:13 am

    Nice article... I'm probably an addict! Oh well, I guess.

  8. prasanna
    December 24, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Well. I have all these habits and I am sure addicted to it. But i deny that it causes severe trauma. Not only smartphone, but also there are so many things without which we may have a hard time for example, Electricity, Non-veg food(I know a handful of people), and internet etc. i dont see any side effects of these addictions unlike a facebook addiction where you are going mad for no likes of your latest photo.

    • Joel Lee
      December 26, 2012 at 4:05 am

      I believe an addiction/obsession becomes unhealthy when it begins to interfere with one's physical, mental, or social health.

      If people are avoiding eye contact or straight up ignoring people face-to-face because they have their noses buried in their smartphones, I think it's become a problem that needs to be addressed. If people are losing sleep or experiencing personality changes due to smartphone addiction, something has to be done.

      There's a difference between loving one's smartphone and being addicted, and I think that's where I'd draw the line. What do you think?

  9. Debbie Franklin
    December 24, 2012 at 2:56 am

    I have to admit that I am addicted to my phone, it's true. And the better they become the more I love them!

  10. Er Singh
    December 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    my smartphone is not that smart to get addicted to it

  11. Gary Mundy
    December 21, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Why fight it, My Nexus S runs my life. Before I got my first smart phone my life was a shambles. Early onset Alzheimer's. LOL. It started at about the age of 18. Now in my fifties I am almost usually on the ball. But then I don't to social media. I'm thinking that there are worse things to be addicted to. It is almost time to upgrade the addiction.

  12. Mac Witty
    December 21, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    No, not addicted. Do even leave the phone in the office for weekends

    • Joel Lee
      December 21, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      That's just risky. What if someone steals it? :P

  13. Glenn Hyde
    December 21, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Buy the telecom stocks and collect their dividends!

  14. Avish Kansakar
    December 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    im more addicted to the internet than my smartphone

  15. Scott Macmillan
    December 21, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I think I overdid in the initial few months of owning a smartphone but now I consider it just another useful device among many and certainly wouldn't suffer withdrawal symptoms if it was taken away.

    • Joel Lee
      December 21, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      You're in the minority and I'm sure most people envy you. Smartphones are great as a tool as long as we don't become enslaved to them. ;D

  16. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    December 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I'm okay with dumbphone. As long as you don't snatch the internet away from me, that is.

    • Joel Lee
      December 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      Internet addiction can be worse. I'm not very addicted to my smartphone, but the Internet sucks me in every time...

  17. druv vb
    December 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Thats a fact. "Smartphone" really makes you an addict. In my case, its more about listening to music, taking pictures, videos. Using the Internet on my phone is rare because I keep my data consumption less than 10MB per month. Calls and messages are also rare, sometimes 10 messages for a whole week. And most importantly, keeping notes about allmost everything. So, it can be called addicted.

  18. claudine ratelle
    December 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    "while driving"... definitely NO!!!

  19. Patrick Jackson
    December 21, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Well, I am not addicted to smartphones! (since I don't have one :( )

    It is a nice article, but I would request that you come up with a new article on computer addiction as well, as I think I am!

  20. Laga Mahesa
    December 21, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Check... check... check...

    This isn't smartphone addiction, this is notification addiction. Twitter, Facebook, Path, Google+, whatever.

    I'm constantly using my iPhone/iPad, but frequently ignore Facebook notifications, and Twitter I leave alone for months at a time, loading up TweetBot only to check on traffic conditions.

    I scan my RSS feed on the toilet, I read saved Pocket articles while eating, I browse Reddit via Alien Blue whilst smoking or otherwise doing nothing.

    Am I addicted? Nope. I've gone weekends without touching either device, and I've gone over a week without touching my iPhone.

    During major world events - elections, disasters, sports - the internet becomes a very, very boring place, and I'll leave both devices alone aside from a few games and productivity apps.

    Am I addicted? Nope.

  21. Phil Botsky
    December 21, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Well I don't have smartphone, so I am definitely not addicted :D

    • Joel Lee
      December 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm

      Yeah, that's one way to avoid an addiction!

  22. Thomas Petrucha
    December 21, 2012 at 9:11 am

    For my children it´s true ... I can´t remember when I´d last seen their eyes ;) ... all time they are staring on their little screens ... same when they are looking TV ... most of the time - eyes on theirs Phones.
    ... sleeping at night? ... no, lights out and Smartphone on ... awake in the morning ... "ohhh I laid on my phone ... ok let´s look what happend last night ... eyes on the screen ...!"

    Maybe this sounds addicted ...

    • Joel Lee
      December 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      That definitely sounds like an addiction, especially if you try to take away their phones for just a moment and they can't live without it! :(

  23. salim benhouhou
    December 21, 2012 at 8:21 am

    people tell me that i am addicted to my smartphone but i think i am not addicted that deep .

    • Joel Lee
      December 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      Denial is the mark of an addict. Haha, just kidding. ;)

  24. Douglas Mutay
    December 21, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Addicted or not? Just answer no if you've never felt the mini heart attack when you touch your pocke and find that your phone is not there... :)

    • Joel Lee
      December 21, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      I'm ashamed to admit that I've felt that moment of panic before. :(

    • Mike
      April 24, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      If you paid phone $500 i think it's the same mini heart attack you feel when touch your pocket and find that your wallet with $500 inside is not there.

  25. Humza Aamir
    December 21, 2012 at 6:15 am

    Its all eye candy and since our eyes are the most receptive of the senses, we just can't let go of it.

    • Joel Lee
      December 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      Eye candy, indeed. We always have to be looking at something important nowadays, don't we? Personally, I need a break every once in a while. Nature is still beautiful!

      • Humza Aamir
        December 22, 2012 at 5:47 am

        I totally agree. Nature is perfect in every way while my android device even though one of the newer ones, suffers with lag ;)

  26. Junil Maharjan
    December 21, 2012 at 4:09 am

    I might be getting addicted to my smartphone as well. but i think i am more addicted to the internet. when i have internet on my pc then i use my smartphone less than when there is no internet.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      December 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      Exactly. I use dumbphone and it's not a problem. I can even ignore my phone for days when I feel like to.

  27. Félix S. De Jesús
    December 21, 2012 at 3:21 am

    The pure Reality. I'm addicted to Smartphone. Last week I got my iPhone bricked and got 3 days without restoring, using a basic phone, and that was a complete nightmare. I can't change an habit like that.

    • Joel Lee
      December 21, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      3 days of agony! It's incredible how reliant we are on our smartphones.

  28. Andrew Yen
    December 21, 2012 at 2:17 am

    mabye.... if it was possiable.... HOW DO I WATERPROOF MY SAMSUNG GALEXY S3 FOR UNDER $60

    • Giggity Goebbels
      December 30, 2012 at 12:32 am

      Put it in plastic and works.