I’m Addicted to My Phone — Help!

I even a wrote some of this post on my phone.

It’s true. I’m addicted to my phone, and so are you. Let’s just admit it! Hey, like i said, I even wrote some of this post on my phone. I guess I’ll give myself a pass on that, though, due to the convenience of being able to write blog posts thanks to technology. This point highlights the double-edged sword technology has become.
I love tech. I’m a real techhead but I have come to admit that I am addict. When we think about addicts, we normally imagine things like alcohol and drugs and people becoming dependent on substances.

However, it’s possible to become addicted to anything and one thing I believe we’re all becoming addicted to is our phones because they provide us with the same cheap hits of dopamine and are so readily available. The reason I feel this is important to talk about is because it can affect your mental health and occupy a huge amount of your time, mind and energy as well as warp your reality into something unhelpful.
It’s important because we only have so much space in our minds and limited bandwidth to use up each day. The average person will admit that they spend at least half of their day looking at their phone. I know I would on some days. That means so much of your available headspace is being used up on just browsing around on your phone aimlessly, absorbing things that probably don’t really add much value to you.
We’re all addicts and worse still, most of us don’t realise it. Occupying a huge chuck of your time scrolling on your phone has become normal to do. We all hear ‘baby boomers’ and the like talking about how the young of today are all glued to their phones. Well, I’m arguably one of those young people and I totally agree that this is becoming (and already is) a big problem in many different ways.

I’m Addicted to My Phone
I’m Addicted to My Phone

I’ve written before about how Facebook had made me anxious but it’s not just social media and things like that which affect your mental health, it’s also just the act of reaching for your phone when you’re in an awkward situation or when you’re just board. Being able to hide in your phone has become a quick ‘get me out’ when you don’t want to be somewhere or deal with a situation.
This in turn is making people less capable of dealing with social interactions and developing interpersonal skills. Sure, what I’m saying is purely anecdotal and I don’t have any studies to point to (although I’m pretty sure they’d be easy to find) but I feel confident in saying we all know this is going on with ourselves and people we know.
Instead of starting conversations in a quiet social situation, like waiting for a meal in a restaurant for example, it’s easier to just unlock your phone and see what’s going on in the world. I’ve done this many times in the past and I’m sure you have. It’s as if we’re not entertained enough by the situations we find ourselves in during real life. Nothing we ever do seems ‘good enough’ anymore.
Have you ever been in a room with someone when they just stop talking and start scrolling on their phones instead of making conversation with you? I get the sense that some of us can’t help but just look at our screens because we think something interesting could be happening without us.
It’s not just not experiencing life that is happening in front of you and instead checking your notifications that’s the only problem.

Why am I even looking at my phone??

Sometime I pick up my phone during the day and I don’t understand why. I’ll unlock it, look at the top posts on Facebook and then close it again. Sometimes I’ll even throw my phone across the table because I’m annoyed that I’ve done it again. I don’t know why I’m even doing it. There’s nothing happening, I am just addicted. I just feel an urge to check, check and check.

Over the last few weeks I’ve created neuro pathways in my brain through the repetition of unlocking my phone constantly throughout the day.
When I first became conscious of this behaviour I tried to trace back to before I had a smartphone. I thought back to the days when I had a phone that could only send texts and calls with a couple of basic games like ‘Snake’. There was no way to check news updates every second or see people writing updates on their lives in the form of paragraphs or text and images.
Thinking about this also made me try and remember how I felt without the modern tech and I’ll have to admit, life felt a lot more simple. You used to have to rely on your own physical people skills to make friends and relationships work. If something was bothering you, it could wait until tomorrow. If something was exciting you, it would be more exciting because you had to wait to see it the next day. After you left school, that was it. You’d have to wait until the next day or after the weekend to chat with your friends.
When I had my crappy old school phone, I felt a lot lighter. If I didn’t take it out with me, I didn’t freak out. If I leave my phone at home these days, I wonder how I’m going to get through the day. Without a stream of information constantly coming in, the day can seem boring and unfulfilling somehow. My phone has become a part of me. It’s an extension of my mind and consciousness.
I’m totally addicted to the act of looking on my phone. These days I don’t scroll through social media so much, most of my time is spent looking at comments on my blog or checking my stats. Either way, I still feel as if I can’t live without my phone and in all honesty it’s scary. Not just because I’m addicted but because everyone I know is also addicted. When you go anywhere, people are looking down at their screens and not at each other.

I’m Addicted to My Phone
I’m Addicted to My Phone

When I look around at friends and family, most of them can’t enjoy an occasion without filming it or taking tons and tons of photos of it. It’s as if it’s a safeguard to not having to interact and feel the present moment. It’s a kind of self-protection. I’m addicted to my phone and so are they. Whilst phones have brought us together us in so many ways, they have also separated us just as much.
Why your phone could be destroying your mental health
Okay, that’s a bold statement but I think your phone could be if you let it. My phone had snuck up on me and it could have on you too. I must admit, the days when I go outside and do something and don’t think about looking at my phone are always the days that I feel most fulfilled and I think there’s really something to that. It sounds so obvious but in a world where were all addicted to our phones, maybe it’s not. Maybe just not having the distraction is the answer.

For example, if I go out for a meal or do a new activity with others and the use of our phones is minimal, I end up feeling like I’ve really done something because I’ve lived my day in the real world without fixating on information that I don’t really care about. What’s worrying is that this feeling should come naturally, not because I’ve tried not to look at my phone. It’s a reminder of the hold my phone has had over me.
Your phone could be eroding your mental health because it’s got such a hold over you too. Sometimes living through your phone can feel like you’re living your real life when in reality you’re only receiving digital feedback that has zero substance and really just leaves you feeling empty.
You can be drawn into arguments that really aren’t ever won or lost, they just end up going on and on and on. What’s worse is that they’re usually with complete strangers that don’t really understand your point and vice versa. Subjects on social media can often trigger you to write a comment in the heat of the moment.

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For example, you may see something that angers you online and you feel an urge to write something hateful in response, even when you know doing so isn’t going to make you feel any better and further still, no one will really care as the comments get buried again and again with other angry comments…
You might find yourself posting something good or bad online and you don’t really know why you did it, as if shouting into the abyss, hoping to catch someone’s attention. Again, I think back to before social media and try to remember what it was like before you could share your every inner thought with hundreds and thousands of people in one go.
I stopped posting so much on social media after I started receiving ‘memories’ on Facebook and thinking how dumb I sounded in old posts. There was no point in posting certain things and it just made me cringe to think I was just seeking attention by posting those things. The shouting into nothingness seems truly bizarre when you step back and think about it.
You have to ask yourself why you’re doing it. Are you seeking approval or are you just bored? I realised I was just seeking attention and I was bored. So I dialed it back. I started to do more in the real world and I felt a lot better. I’m not saying I’m better than other people because I don’t update the world consistently. What I’m trying to say is, I’ve noticed the concept of thinking out loud (with the most random thoughts) on social media is a very odd thing to do. There really is no point in doing it. Now by Facebook app is dusty and barely used and it continues to feel good.
I will admit, Telegram still has a big hold over me, and for me, that’s okay. I get the chance to argue with people i don’t even know.

I’m Addicted to My Phone

You may also find yourself neglecting real world relationships. This is a big sign of smartphone addiction. Instead of spending time with your loved ones, you find yourself and your partner both on your phones talking and engaging with strangers instead of each other. Even stranger, you might have conversations with your loved ones over social media, even though you’re sitting right next to each other, as if playing to an open audience.
I know some people who create a certain appearance of their relationships to the world online that are completely different to what they are like in reality, in a negative way. I don’t point that out to make them feel bad but to bring awareness to something that so many people do. This appears to be another way in which people substitute what’s going on physically with ‘digital avoidance’.

Your online persona can be anything you want. You can make yourself appear any way you want so is it any wonder people become addicted to creating a more interesting persona for themselves online? You can’t blame people for doing it, it’s so easy to go down that rabbit hole and crate yourself a whole new reality, even if that reality doesn’t actually exist after you turn your phone off.
Again, tech is a double edge sword. One one hand, its enhancing and making life easier for many people. Better still technology helps people who can’t leave their homes connect with others that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. You can meet other people that share your views and interests from the other side of the world.
Technology is like anything, it’s a tool to be used. So there are massive pros to technology and having a small computer in your pocket. It seems to be getting addicted to it that’s so easy. So what’s the answer?

How to overcome smartphone addiction & what I’m doing

Of course, I’m no expert, but the following is what I’m doing to overcome my smartphone addiction. I don’t want to be so reliant on my phone so I’m taking action to make it less important. The goal isn’t to totally eradicate it from my life but to use it less.

I’m Addicted to My Phone

Leave it to run out of battery
My phone is part of my holy trinity. i.e., when I go out I make sure I have my phone, money and keys. These are the most important things I need on me. However, when I’m at home, I’m letting my phone run out of battery and not putting it back on charge. Normally I’ll charge it up over night so I’ve got it for work which I’m still doing. When I’m at home, I’m leaving it on the side to run down when it does.

Deleting apps
Another thing I’m doing to try and combat my smartphone addiction is I’m deleting apps. Apps that I don’t really use or that I use too much. There’s tons of apps on my phone that that make my screen full of dazzling colours. There’s certain apps that I’m keeping like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and a couple of others that I use to create things on my blog. Facebook could be addictive but I’m keeping it on my phone mainly for football updates and entertainment arguments. I like to look at my teams updates through games and find out team lineups before games.

Apps that I’m deleting include social medias that I thought I’d try out but didn’t really use. Also photo editing apps that I don’t need (you only need one really good one) and news apps. All you really need is your home screen with a few apps that you actually use on a regular basis. The idea is — when you have less apps, you have less to look at and less distractions.

I’m Addicted to My Phone

Setting times to use the phone
The problem with working from home (especially during a pandemic) is you can look at your phone whenever you want. Even if you don’t need to. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, I’ve found myself checking the news constantly to see how much the disease is spreading. Most of the time, there is nothing very new to see but I still find myself doing it. I’ve had to admit that I’ve fallen for what news websites want you to do — keep coming back for more. It’s so easy to do when something like this pandemic happens. After all, you want to be in the know.
So what I’ve had tot do is set times during the day when I’ll check for updates on my phone. These are in the morning to check emails, the news and the like. Then in the afternoon quickly, and finally the evening. However, I’m finding that I use my phone much more in the evening as by then I’m pretty less busy.

Not posting on Social Media
Social media is designed just like the news. It creates an environment of outrage so you want to keep coming back to be a part of the conversation and say your piece on a matter. However, as I’ve already said, now I’m awake to this (not to sound “woke” because I hate that!) I’m avoiding it because it doesn’t ever make me feel good or like I’ve got one over on anyone. I have found that I have no real reason to put anything up on social media at all. If I were to write anything it would just to be so I could provoke a reaction from someone in a good or a bad way. However, every action seems to be pointless in the end as if there is nothing gained.
So far, not posting anything has been very easy. Over the last few years I have posted less and less to the point where I don’t at all anymore. I went from a hardcore daily ‘poster’ to nothing. I must admit, it feels good. Even if I do lurk around on the apps from time to time to see what’s going on.

I’m Addicted to My Phone
I’m Addicted to My Phone

Resisting the urge to ‘unlock’
Probably the hardest thing is to resist the urge to unlock your phone and scroll through it. As mentioned, it’s become a bad habit that destroys hours upon hours of my time and means I not only talk to people less but also write less which is what I love to do the most.. If I’ve got nothing to do then I’ll find myself very tempted out of boredom but in reality I actually do have things to do that I’m putting off and instead use my phone as an escape from my responsibilities.
Whilst the urge will always be there, I’m now only unlocking my phone when I get a message from someone. Messages can obviously be important to respond to, especially when you have children.
I’m addicted to my phone but I’m doing something about it.

Phone addiction is a very real thing even if it is something that people joke about a lot. It not only destroys relationships but also erodes individuals mental health and perspective towards the world. Being addicted to your phone wastes your time in the real world and leaves you feeling totally empty. For me, the only solution is to remove yourself from your phone as much as you can. Make it less important in your life and do more in the physical world. Thus whether you feel you are addicted or not.
As technology weaves itself into our lives more, it’s going to be even more important to take a step back and understand how it affects our mental health

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