“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives.  It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.”  (Steven Spielberg)

“The cell phone has become the adult’s transitional object, replacing the toddler’s teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging.” (Margaret Heffernan)

My morning commute is characterized by two semi-disturbing scenes.  The first occurs on the subway.  Without fail, a large majority of the passengers stand or sit with necks craned, ears plugged, and one hand clasped around a smartphone.  The second disconcerting spectacle takes place in the elevator up to the office.  The ensuing silence is a sobering moment.  Apparently, being in any sort of a confined space with other human beings triggers an automatic response to engage with our mobile devices. To a certain extent I am understanding and tolerant of this modern phenomenon.  Smartphones are extraordinary machines, and the content they provide has the potential to make train rides less dreary and alleviate the awkwardness of a packed elevator.  However, research suggests cell phone users can develop problematic behaviors related to substance use disorders.   Although drugs or alcohol may not be a problem in your life, it’s important to ask yourself whether or not mobile phone overuse is turning you into an addict.

What is Mobile Phone Overuse?

 Mobile phone overuse (also referred to as problem mobile phone use) is a dependence syndrome seen among certain cell phone users.  Some users exhibit abnormal behavior such as preoccupation with mobile communication, excessive money or time spent on mobile devices in socially or physically inappropriate situations such as driving.  Increased use may also lead to adverse effects in relationships, anxiety caused by separation from cell phone or sufficient signal.

mobile phone overuse

What are the Physical Effects of Mobile Phone Overuse?

 Overuse of your cell phone or smartphone can result in a variety of physical problems that may cause permanent damage.  The physical effects include: digital eye strain, neck problems (“text neck”), increased illnesses due to exposure to germs, car accidents, and male infertility.

What are the Psychological Effects of Mobile Phone Overuse?

 The potential psychological effects of being hooked on your phone are many.  Some of these include: sleep disturbances, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, offline relationship problems, anxiety, poor work/school performance, reduced inhibitions, diminished goal orientation, memory loss, difficulty recalling information, and a difficulty distinguishing needs versus wants.


Am I Addicted to My Cell Phone?

 Here are a few indications that you might be using your cell phone too much:  checking weather/time on phone rather than opening window/looking at a watch, checking your phone first thing in the morning, panic ensues when you suspect your phone is lost, your phone battery does not last a full day, you take your cell phone to the bathroom, you check your phone during social situations, or you feel phantom vibrations in your pocket.

How Do I Decrease My Mobile Phone Usage?

 Try implementing some of these techniques to reduce the amount of time you spend on your cell phone.  This will help reduce the risk of pain or injury and prevent negative psychological side effects.  Try to take regular breaks from your mobile device.  This can be achieved by limiting typing time to no more than 10-15 minute sessions.  Also, take regular breaks of at least 2-3 minutes every 15 minutes or so.  Ensure you are not interrupted during these rests by placing your phone on silent.  In addition to periodic breaks, make sure to stretch often.  Stretch your spine, shoulders, wrist, hands, fingers and thumbs.

The Breeze
Addiction Tips
Japan Times