The Truth About Smartphone Addiction


I wonder if you've heard of it. According to APA or American Psychological Association, it's a term that refers to "fear of not being with one's cellphone."

One popular pastor playfully calls it "cellphonitis" in a sermon. A type of digital dependency.

It's not hard to witness this phenomenon around. People have intimate relationships with their phones. They sleep with them, eat with them, and carry them in their pockets.

According to a New York Times report, both teens and adults check their smartphones 150 times per day. That's about every 6 minutes! And ... send an average of 110 texts per day.

It's a growing modern-day cyber-addiction. It strikes all ages - children, youth, adults, and even the aged.

The other day, a young artist told me in-session:

"Doc, I want to be productive and do more paintings. Also, talk to friends. But I find myself wasting time checking on my FB and my other social media for long hours. I can't understand my self."

In one case study, a user says, "I loved cell phone so much that my studies, work, and even personal relationships started to suffer and my phone became a way for me to avoid people in the real world." .

Is the smartphone to blame here? Do Facebook or other social media and internet resources injurious to our mental health?

The truth is, technology makes life better for us than before.

We can't blame Apple for inventing the useful iPhone. Nor can we point a finger to Google or Facebook etc for expanding our knowledge and social outreach.

So, it's not really the smartphone, tablet, or laptop in your hand or bag. The addiction comes from somewhere else.

It's found from within the person. The mind of the user has an excessive need for micro-feedback about himself or herself.

I notice this a lot when I'm in a coffee shop. People constantly looking at their smartphones, flipping through social media posts or messages. They get excited when they see likes or comments!

As writer John Brandon observes,

"It's not the gadget itself, it's the micro-reward we crave ... We're addicted to seeing digital rewards ... Micro-feedback taps into our desire to be noticed, to be credited, to experience recognition ... We're looking for more feedback on our phones because we're certainly not getting feedback in person."

We all need to strike a balance. Have discipline, periodic digital fasts. Get real in life.

Our devices are useful and helpful, especially in productivity or work settings. It's our mental addiction to digital micro-rewards that's causing the problems.