HANDS UP – Are you addicted to your mobile phone?

While a smartphone, or tablet can be a hugely productive tool, compulsive use of these devices can interfere with work, school, and relationships.

After all, it’s rarely the phone or tablet itself that creates the compulsion, but rather the games, apps, and online worlds it connects us to.

Do you recognise yourself here:

  1. You feel anxious when the phone battery gets low
  2. You can’t leave the house without your smartphone
  3. You feel annoyed when you can’t access your phone
  4. You put your life or others at risk to check your smartphone
  5. You use your phone to check for work updates while on holiday
  6. Find yourself waking up at 3 am to check your email or Facebook account?
  7. Your phone addiction is having a negative effect on your relationship?
  8. You make sure you can see your phone whenever it is in your hand or pocket
  9. Check your phone several times an hour to make sure you haven’t missed a notification
  10. Use your phone when bored

If you can answer ‘yes’ to most of these questions, then you are probably experiencing Nomophobia [NO MObile Phone PhoBIA] This is a term used to describe a psychological condition when people have a fear of being detached from mobile phone connectivity and is now in the Cambridge dictionary and is also sometimes called cell phone addiction.

The symptoms are often associated with separation anxiety, low self-esteem, increased heart rate and blood pressure, social anxiety disorder, panic attacks, fear and panic.

The History

Just think how much technology we have now compared to 50 years ago when transistor radios were all the rage and you might listen to yours under the bedclothes. There was no TV in the bedroom, no iPad and most of all, there were  no mobile phone. we went to bed to sleep.

In 2021, many of us are checking emails and making calls on our mobiles before we are even out of bed or checking on the children!

Our phone goes everywhere with us. It sits in the bathroom as we clean our teeth and is never out of sight. We read the paper on our phone and we do our banking with a flash of the screen. We speak to friends on Instagram and Facebook, tweet on Twitter, chat on WhatsApp. We even wake in the night to take that transatlantic business call. BUT are we really more productive?

Technology has given us a new exciting life and it enables us to absorb so much more but what is it doing to our health and relationships? Are we really more effective at work or home when we are on call 24/7? I wonder.

Technostress and Gadget Dependence

Technology is impacting on our mental health, family life is suffering and are we really so efficient at work when we have to take time to share our thoughts with the world. We have become more angry and anxious and yes even depressed as we struggle to manage our technology which as we all know when it goes wrong or gets lost causes no end of stress. We live our lives on our phones, iPads and laptops but are we more efficient?

Do stress and technology go hand in hand?

We get irritated when we don’t get an immediate response to a text or email. We get frustrated when the WiFi signal fails in the middle of a conference call and when your child drops your phone and cracks the screen – it can all be too much to bear.

The weekend is  friends and family time  and where once silver graced the dining table now it is flashy technology sitting there waiting to interrupt and disrupt a pleasant evening.

So how do we manage this avalanche of gadgets designed to make our lives easier but instead extend the working day without extra pay. How do we avoid technology burnout?

It is time to take control of technology and put firmly back in its place. It is an accessory to help you do your job and run your life not a crutch.

Your mobile phone can be a life saver or a life destroyer use it with care.

Keeping your phone close by at all times is important but there is no real need to take it to bed with you. Charge it in a separate room. Not only is this safer but you will not be woken by messages from the other side of the world and different time zones.

Finally your phone is a tool and it enables you rapid communication – respect it for that and do not abuse it.

How to Beat Your Mobile Phone Addiction

  1. Keep yourself on a schedule. Carve out specific time to use your phone.  If you have business calls to make, then make them at the same time – you will be more efficient
  2. Don’t answer the phone just because it rings – voicemail works very efficiently
  3. Turn off your push notifications so you don’t feel overwhelmed. You don’t need a ping or whoosh to tell you that there is an email waiting for you
  4. Take distracting apps off your home screen
  5. Limit your children’ screen to an acceptable level
  6. Don’t play with your children at the same time as having your phone in your hand
  7. Buy an alarm clock and make the bedroom a phone-free zone
  8. Physically turn off your phone and other electronical at night and leave it in another room
  9. Put the phone away while eating and socialising with friends.
  10. Don’t try and multi-task with your phone with your phone, ipad or computer.

The internet can enrich our lives in many ways and we are fortunate to live in an era when we are able to reach out to the other side of the world in an instant.

The omnipresence of this technology addiction is having an impact on our lives and it can only increase as technology increases even more.

Many people consider their tech as an extension of themselves – the so-called extended self and it would be good to learn to manage time during the day without the addiction trigger in our pockets.

Rome wasn’t built in a day so if you recognise yourself in this article, then put some of the tips into practice one day at a time!

Good luck and see you at the other end of a conversation without a phone!

Carole Spiers

Carole Spiers

Carole is the CEO of a leading UK stress management and wellbeing consultancy. She is a BBC Guest-broadcaster and author of Show Stress Who’s Boss! Carole is an international Motivational Speaker and is regularly called upon by the national press and media for comment. She is Chair of the International Stress Management Association [UK], founder of Stress Awareness Day, Fellow and Past President of the Professional Speaking Association, London. www.carolespiers.co.uk