Confession: I'm Addicted to my Phone

First thing in the morning. Last thing at night. Any time I have a spare moment, I inevitably pick up my phone to check for a message, or a Snapchat, or any form of notification. Yet until now, I have refused to admit to myself that I may have a teeny tiny addiction. I was in denial for a long time, deflecting attention onto my teenage sister, who, almost by definition, spends a substantial proportion of her life on her phone. Sorry Jojo! We both have a problem.

Estimates on how often the average person checks their phone range from 85 to 150 times per day, figures which I find easy to believe. I compulsively pick up my phone at any time my concentration wanders, which significantly impedes my learning. I scroll mindlessly through Instagram, flick through Snapchat stories, and impulsively return to 2048 during every TV programme I watch. I’m even taking regular breaks to check for messages as I’m writing this article. It’s mind-blowing how dependent we are on our phones – what did people do before Google Maps and Uber existed?

The comforting (or extremely worrying) thing is that it’s not just me. The statistics on smartphone and social media addiction, paint an unnerving picture. According to a 2017 Global Mobile Consumer Survey carried out by Deloitte, 56% of 16-24 year olds believe that they use their smartphones too much, whilst 44% check their phone within 5 minutes of going to sleep. Aside from the obvious problems of feeling so dependent on a piece of technology, a scientific study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that night time exposure to LED screens disrupts the production of melatonin, which prevents a good night’s sleep. It also negatively affects alertness and cognitive performance levels. This is not to mention the detrimental effects on the mental health of increasingly younger users, many of whom feel anxious, inadequate, and insecure when they compare their lives to manicured Instagram personas of celebrities and friends.

So how can smartphone addiction be prevented? After a quick Google search, the main advice seems to focus on turning off push notifications, deleting unnecessary apps, keeping your phone out of the bedrooms, and downloading apps that track your phone usage to hold yourself accountable. The best solution would be to delete all social media accounts, but you would have to be a martyr to do that. With the ever-increasing interconnected-ness that social media and technology bring, and the world’s dependence on it, I’m not sure that we will ever be able to decouple ourselves from our phones. For now, I’m just going to make a conscious effort to keep it in my pocket whenever I’m talking to someone, and off my desk whilst working.