Are you addicted to your smartphone?

Addiction can come in many forms, alcohol addiction, gambling addiction - but smartphone addiction? Is that really a thing? Yes, it is and you may not even realize that you are addicted – I didn’t realize I was. It wasn’t until I took a step back and looked at myself and started to analyze my habit.

Many of us use smartphones every day. Whether that’s to keep in touch with loved ones, check your social media, taking photographs of your food, whatever, I won’t judge you. The question you have to ask yourself is “could you live without your phone?” I bet most of you will answer no, and I commend you for your honesty. It’s not easy to give up something we use every day and even less so with something we use for so much of our lives.

For most of us, our smartphone is the door to the outside world and beyond. It’s the as we find out about current events, the way we discover the breaking news or the way we plan our weekend activities. Take this away from a modern person and you start to see how rapidly your life would change. We are privileged to live such lives and we shouldn’t take that for granted. Video games and TV on demand is so readily available it’s easy to forget the world’s wider issues. I digress, but I wanted to put things into perspective for you. When I did I realized something I never thought possible.

I am addicted to my smartphone. There I said it - I am an addict. I can openly admit that and I’m not ashamed. The first thing I do when I wake up after turning the alarm on my phone off is scroll through twitter. I literally spend about 5 minutes before I drag myself to the shower just scanning my news feed. I tell my partner I do this to wake my brain up - by reading something, it gets my brain working and that could be somewhat true, but it’s not the reason I do it. I do it because I want to, because I need to because that’s my routine.

I used to be a smoker and the first thing I’d want to do when I got in my car, to drive to the office, was to have a cigarette. Again it’s a routine I had and that was one of the smokes I enjoyed most on a day. The analogy with smartphone use is the same.

When I quit smoking, I had help from the health service. The smoking counselor asked me to write down all the cigarettes I had in a day and simply rate them a 1 or 2. The cigarettes labeled 2 were the ones I really enjoyed and couldn’t give up and a 1s being ones I enjoyed less so. I decided to try this with my phone, I’d take a note of every time I used my phone, whether that was texting, calling or looking at social media and I’d rate them a 1 or a 2. By the end of the almost every rating was a 2.

“I needed to send this text; so that’s a 2” I’d tell myself. I quickly learned just how much I relied on my phone and I also learned a lot about myself. Almost all of my social interaction, my diary entries, tracking my freelance work all needed my phone. I was addicted and some could say for good reason - my work, my friends, and my life were all in this electronic device, the same device that woke me up on a morning and started my day.

The times we live in I think most of us probably have an addiction to our smartphone and if anything, I’m proof we do. So I ask you what’s the first thing you do on a morning? I would hazard a guess it involves your smartphone. Next time you pick up your device, think about how your day would be without it. Think about buying an alarm clock and think about buying a paper diary. Technology has made our lives so much easier, but who could have guessed it would have us addicted?

It’s almost a laughable thought when you think about the many people struggling with life changing addictions. I’m sat here wondering if I could change my habit and not WhatsApp my friend for a week or so when there are people out there who have had their lives ruined by addiction.

Perspective is everything when you start to look at your own addictions and I’ve learned a lot when researching this article. I didn’t think it would be so tough to live without my smartphone until I tried to. The next time you go out with friends for a meal or something, think about not taking your phone and see how that makes you feel.

I’m a true believer that the technology we have today can be used for much good and it has improved our lives massively. News gets around fast and potential disasters can be avoided and for all that goodness, I’m thankful. What I don’t believe in is the way that certain technology is ruling our lives. Where social interaction is nothing but thumbs frantically typing away. This is the future we need to avoid.

With all this in mind and considering my experiences look at yourself and your own habits. I ask you upon reflection, are you addicted to your smartphone?

Constantly threatening to write a book, but always with a story to tell. Tom has a typical northern English soul. He may sound as mundane as Jon Snow, but at least he tries to articulate. Lover of video games, comics, geek pop culture and wishing he could play Dungeons & Dragons.