Informational Guide on Cell Phone Dependency

Adam Alred • 06 Feb 2023 • 3 min read

Cell phones are essential for people nowadays. No matter where you go, you likely use your cell phone to keep in touch with people, pass the time, be entertained, and act as a navigator so you can always find where you need to go. The technology inside it has made it an integral part of day-to-day life that most people can’t live without. In fact, on average, most people spend several hours a day on their phones without even realizing it! Every smartphone user is at risk for developing a cell phone addiction because there are so many apps on their phone designed to attract users that it can be difficult to tear your eyes away!

It’s easier now than ever to get a cell phone, even at a young age, which drives up the chance of teenagers developing an addiction to their cell phones or social media. The statistics of cell phone dependency are staggering when you look at them!

  • 71% of people say they sleep with or near their phone.

  • 60% of college students in the United States freely admit to cell phone addiction.

  • More people admit to thinking about their cell phones first as opposed to thinking of their significant others, friends, or family.

  • Almost half of Americans say they would never be able to go a day without their phone.

But what’s the difference between spending some free time on your phone and an addiction? While there’s no clear line, there are a few questions you should ask yourself if you’re worried you’ve developed a cell phone addiction.

  • Do you spend more time on your phone than you realize?

  • Instead of doing something productive with your time, do you mindlessly scroll through your phone?

  • Do you spend more time talking to people online than in real life?

  • Do you lose track of time when you use your phone?

  • Do you interrupt your day-to-day life to check your phone?

  • Do you sleep with your phone right next to you?

  • Are you anxious if you’re away from your phone for a little while?

The answers to these questions may lend themselves to something other than an official diagnosis. It is essential to consider if your phone time has been slowly increasing.

While cell phone addiction is not officially listed as a mental disorder like gambling or alcohol addiction, over the years, there have been apparent physical and psychological side effects from the overuse of these devices. Among the physical side effects that can pop up from constant cell phone use include:

  • Eye strain (including itchy or burning eyes, blurred vision, fatigue, and pain and discomfort)

  • Neck problems

  • Increased illness from germs on the phone’s surface

  • Injury from potential car accidents when people are texting and driving

Researchers have discovered psychological effects from people who spend most of their time on their phones, including:

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Luckily, even if you’ve developed some of these symptoms from smartphone overuse, it’s not impossible to break the habit! Set aside a little bit of time every week, like a day or a couple of hours, and intentionally put your phone away and do something with your loved ones around you in person. You can opt for a reset experiment where you can only use your phone to make calls or text somebody, but nothing else. You could download an app that locks your phone for better focus or set daily usage limits. You can also change the settings on your phone, like turning off notifications, putting your phone in airplane mode, and using the do not disturb option. However, one of the best things you can do to reduce screen time is to ensure you don’t charge your phone next to your bed. Doing so cuts down on sleep-related issues. If you move your phone far enough away, it may not be the first thing you look at when you wake up, so you can put your focus on something more meaningful in the mornings.

Both smartphones and social media are growing increasingly addicting for teens and young adults. Some researchers suggest they can both be as addictive as drugs and alcohol. The apps on a phone and social media platforms both deliver surges of dopamine that trigger the brain’s reward center that keeps people coming back for more. The reason so many young people are addicted to their phones is because of all the social media platforms they have downloaded. For some, it’s their primary form of socializing. Smartphones and social media can be great tools for people, but always in moderation!

By Adam Alred

VP of IT @ VoiceNation