9 Proven Cell Phone Addiction Symptoms You Need to Know!

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We all know someone who can’t put their phone down no matter what the circumstance.

They have them out at dinner, or while in conversation with friends.

That phone is the first thing they look at upon waking and the last thing they look at before sleep.

Whether playing games, texting family & friends or checking up on social media channels, the phone is omnipresent.

I’m talking adult cell phone addiction here although kids and screens of all sizes are certainly an issue too.

Cell phone addiction symptoms disconnect us from our family and friends. We aren’t present to what we’re doing at the moment.

In this post we’ll review the symptoms of cell phone addiction. But we’ll also look at what we can do about it if we show some or our spouse does.

It’s truly amazing that we have the tools to connect to so much and yet have become so disconnected

3 guys at a dinner table all on smartphones cell phone addiction symptoms Middle Class Dad

I avoided getting a cell phone for a long time.

In fact, I only got one when my former employer told me I had to have one.

I had just been promoted to General Manager for the first time and I was told that the boss needed to be able to reach me 24/7.

I got a flip phone (this was fall of 2000). Cell phone addiction symptoms weren’t even a concept then.

My love/hate relationship with cell phones

I guess at the time I thought they were too hoity-toity; too yuppie. The irony, of course, being that fast forward 15 years and the so-called “smart” phones we have now made that flip phone look like a rotary dial.

If you don’t know what a rotary dial phone is you’re too young for my blog.  Just kidding.

Back then, I liked being able to leave my house and just live. If anyone had tried to reach me while I was out they had to leave a voicemail on a tiny cassette tape.  I know; ancient technology compared to what we have today.

I liked being able to talk to people and connect with them. Now we just tag each other. I liked to see what I was doing with my eyes and not through the lens of my phone’s camera.

Fast forward to today and we all have smartphones. Many of us cell phone addiction symptoms too.

According to the Pew Research Center, about 64% of Americans own a smartphone and that study is almost 2 years old!

At the time of the study, their findings concluded that the ownership of smartphones had increased 35% over the previous 4 years. So if that trend held true, that puts the current number at over 75% now.

Guess what? That’s about 244 million smartphone owners in the US!

A lot of potential cell phone addiction symptoms!

What do you call a person who is addicted to their phone?

Nomophobia is the fear of losing one’s cell phone.  No, I’m not making that up! It essentially stands for NoMo(bile) phone. The term was coined in the UK in 2010.

Nomophobia might sound silly, but for those in the throws of cell phone addiction symptoms, the effects can become deadly!

A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that “a total of 24.12% of the students were found to be nomophobic and at risk of being nomophobes were 40.97%.”

Specifically, this study was looking at college students.  They went on to say “students showed an alarming indication that students have been addicted to the mobile phone which in turn affect their academic performance in a negative way.”

What are the symptoms of nomophobia?

The symptoms of nomophobia may include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath or Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat

What is addiction to mobile phones?

guy texting and driving wearing a hoodie and baseball cap cell phone addiction symptoms Middle Class Dad

While not the same as drugs or alcohol, we can certainly look at the textbook definition of addiction and see how it might apply to cell phone addiction.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some attributes of addiction as it applies here would include:

  1. Not meeting obligations and work responsibilities (or cutting back on social or recreational activities)
  2. Driving or doing other risky activities (when using your phone)
  3. Focusing more and more time and energy (when using your phone)
  4. Failing in your attempts to stop (or cut back when using your phone)
  5. Lack of awareness or inattention to surrounding people and things

Does any of that sound familiar?

Sounds and notifications – the soundtrack of cell phone addiction symptoms!

Notifications drive me crazy.

The constant beeping, vibrating or other noises disturbs my concentration (whether it’s my phone or someone else’s).

Even more mind numbing is the sense of urgency with which many of us strive to act on these notifications.

Going back to my story above from 15 years ago before I had a cell phone, there was no urgency.  You called, left me a message and when I got home I heard it and called you back.

End of story.  If I got in late, I called you back the next day.

Now we feel the desire to respond instantly.  Many of us get insecure when someone doesn’t respond instantly to a message we sent them! (been there, done that).

In short; this is crazy behavior, and I’m speaking from personal experience.

Ironically many of us see smartphones as a way to stay connected with each other.

Yet all one need do is look around in social settings and see the mindless hoards all staring down at their cell phones instead of talking with each other to realize just how truly disconnected we’ve become.

How can I stop using my phone?

There are a great many public figures I admire, quote from, link to, etc, but among those is a guy named Prince Ea.  He’s part poet, part prophet and an all-around visionary artist with a lot to say about our world.

His message can best be broken down as “be balanced, be mindful, be present, be here”.

Prince Ea has a great video on the topic of electronic devices and their proper role in our society and if you have 3 minutes to spare, I highly recommend you take a look.

How many hours a week do you spend on your phone?

Now don’t get me wrong. I have a smartphone (android) and I use it daily.

After all, the glorious job of blog-master does require me to spend some decent time on social media channels. Often (but not always), that is by way of my phone.

I tweet, pin and post to my heart’s content. I text my wife and co-workers. I’ll check my home email, work email and blog email.

Maybe I’ll Google some rare bit of music trivia or look something up on Amazon. There’s a lot I can do on my phone and so I do!

Dr. Michio Kaku has been quoted as saying “Today, your cell phone has more computer power than all of NASA back in 1969, when it placed two astronauts on the moon.”

It’s true, most of us possess amazing power that fits snugly into our back pocket.

But as Uncle Ben once warned Peter Parker, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Meaning that while we can do amazing things in a matter of seconds with our phones, we have a responsibility to use them wisely; for the greater good.

Becoming addicted to your smartphone nullifies all that power because it turns us into insensitive, mindless automatons with bad manners.

How can I stop using my phone?

The good news is we can all take steps today to curb our technology addiction.

We can make a choice at any time to not be a slave to our cell phone addiction symptoms. We can set the phone down. You can make a choice to turn the ringer off, leave it at home or schedule technology time for yourself and your kids.
Wondering How Much is Too Much Screen Time for Kids? Check out one of my most popular parenting posts where I walk you step by step through the process of answering just that question!

In my house, we have technology free Sundays where we all strive to stay off all forms of technology. We also have strict limits for screen time for our daughters the rest of the week.

Sadly we have some work to do for us parents!

Personally, I try and do the following to curb cell phone addiction:

  • I rarely, if ever, take my phone to bed
  • Turn the ringer off at work, at church and other similar places
  • While I might do a Facebook check-in at a restaurant or occasionally take a great picture of my family, I otherwise don’t take my phone out at the dinner table
  • If I am on my phone and approached by someone I set my phone aside so I can focus on the person
  • If in the above scenario, I am doing something truly urgent, I will say to the person ” let me finish this real quick so I can focus on what you’re saying”

Other good solutions would be to reduce the number of apps on your phone; social media apps in particular.  Have a set time every day on a desktop when you check your Facebook, Twitter, etc and leave it at that.

So what are my . . . 

9 Proven Cell Phone Addiction Symptoms You Need to Know?

  1. You look at your phone within 5 minutes of waking up (outside of an alarm clock)

  2. Telling your spouse or significant other you love them more through text than in person

  3. You use your phone at the dinner table throughout the meal

  4. Answering your phone, playing games or returning texts when in the middle of conversations with others

  5. Bringing your phone with you everywhere you go

  6. Feeling compelled to return texts instantly no matter what you are doing

  7. Texting, gaming or checking social media while driving

  8. Being on your phone more than 15 minutes at a time (not counting actual calls or work-related usage)

  9. Forgetting your phone and turning around to go get it even if it makes you late for work or wherever you were going

Do you have cell phone addiction symptoms? Does your spouse?

In this post, we looked at some troubling cell phone addiction symptoms and statistics. We explored just how damaging and disconnecting the ever-present use of smartphones can be.

Most importantly we looked at some simple ways to curb that behavior in ourselves or help our spouse.

Feel free to comment here or email me with any questions as I am here to help!

If you like this post, please consider sharing on Facebook, because if it helped you, it just might help someone else!

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Photo credits (that aren’t mine):
2 Phone Ladies – https://www.flickr.com/photos/fsadykov/
Table of phone guys – https://www.flickr.com/photos/symic/
Texting driver – https://www.flickr.com/photos/rvp-cw/


Jeff Campbell

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