Recent research suggests that up to 25% of children and young adults experience problematic Smartphone use or Smartphone addiction. Everywhere you go you see someone staring at their Smartphone, endlessly scrolling.
Today, people of all ages use their Smartphones with average use as much as 3-6 hours a day, or more. According to Pew Research, 46% of US adults say they could not live without their Smartphone. There are over three billion Smartphone users globally, and the Smartphone is one of the most rapidly adopted forms of technology in history. Within ten years, nearly 85% of people in the US have Smartphones and it is difficult to avoid their use for many daily activities. Dr. David Greenfield conducted a study in 2014, in partnership with AT&T, and found that 8-12% of Smartphone users surveyed met the criteria for addicted use.
Smartphones have become a necessity and provide us with access to endless amounts of information and entertainment, but not without a price. The Smartphone essentially operates like a small slot machine, doling out rewards in the form of desired content, social media updates, messages, news, and information. Each time we receive something we like, we get a small dopamine hit in our brain, but what makes our Smartphones even more addictive is the notification feature.
Notifications tell our brains that a reward might be waiting for us, and the “maybe factor” creates an addictive pattern in our brain where the expectation of seeing something we might like resembles what happens when anticipating winning on a slot machine. And, just like on a slot machine, it is that anticipation that keeps our eyes glued to screens for hours each day.
Addictive patterns of behavior
When does our use and overuse of our Smartphones become an addiction?
The real issue here is whether your Smartphone use interferes in your life in some significant way, if so, you may be addicted.
- Do you feel anxious or stressed when you don’t have your Smartphone with you?
- Do you feel that you are missing out on something if you do not check your Smartphone?
- Are you constantly checking your phone?
- Do you mindlessly scroll and search with no goal?
- Are you endlessly distracted by your phone?
- Do you use your phone during work, school, or while driving, and are you distracted when you need to attend to other tasks at hand?
- Do you have difficulty tolerating a moment without distraction and reach your phone to avoid boredom?
- Do you use your phone to access games or pornography to the exclusion of other tasks or activities?
Smartphone addiction is essentially a form of Internet addiction because the Smartphone is a portable, easily accessible portal to the Internet. This ease-of-access contributes to the Smartphone being so addictive. The Smartphone essentially becomes a method of delivering stimulating content to the brain and nervous system; the content itself can be stimulating (interesting or exciting), but when combined with easy and fast accessibility, it can make it more addictive.
Additional signs, symptoms, and behaviors of problematic Smartphone use include:
- An active pattern of Smartphone use that is impacting you or your loved one’s daily functioning
- The pattern of use may include an escalation of the amount of time on your phone.
- A notable impact in life-balance, including:
- academic performance
- occupational issues
- personal hygiene and self-care
- time management
- reduction in social relationships/social isolation
- reduced sleep
- health or medical issues
- irritability or anger when access to screens is removed
- reduced engagement in previously pleasurable or satisfying activities
How we can help
At the Greenfield Recovery Center, our program helps individuals overcome Smartphone addiction using comprehensive, evidence-based practices. Our team of experts work with Participants to reduce dependence on screens and reintroduce rewards of real-time living, helping to create a more balanced and sustainable life with technology.
Are you ready to take back the control over your smartphone?
Speak with a recovery advisor now.
Click here to learn how to manage your technology use so it doesn’t manage you.