Excessive Screentime: A Guide for Overcoming an Addiction to Cellphones

 

Today’s world is run by technology, so much so that it is easy to become dependent on our devices. In this day and age, advancements are happening nearly every day. We can access the world at our fingertips, which means technological distractions are easily accessible.

 

Cell phones are extremely handy and make life more convenient. In just a matter of seconds you can find a map, look up restaurants, or connect with other people. But it doesn’t take much for our mobile devices to become harmful and possibly lead to addiction.

 

Not all cellphone users are addicts, but when the person physically and mentally struggles with turning it off or putting it away then there’s a serious issue. Becoming reliant on mobile devices risks the ability to have a healthy lifestyle. It’s not bad to have some screentime, but the day shouldn’t be taken up with all screentime.

 

The Danger of Cell Phones

Smartphones contain everything the world has to offer: social media, games, the internet, and more. You may have heard the joke, “there’s an app for everything.” This statement isn’t far from the truth, but when you have nearly everything in the palm of your hand there’s a risk of not being able to let go.

 

Spending too much time on a screen is not too far from spending all your time. Quality of life is at risk with excessive cellphone use as other aspects of life suffer. There’s a give and take when it comes to using smartphones. When the phone takes large quantities of time then other things like relationships, education, and even health are compromised.

 

For most, the first action of every morning is reaching for their phone. It’s common to delay getting out of bed to scroll through messages, posts, and more. When Pew Research Center did a study on teens and cellphone use, they reported that 44% of teens check their phone right after they wake up.

This mentality of constantly needing to check your phone—whether it be for notifications or curiosity—is a gateway to an addiction to mobile devices. According to CNN Health, 80% of teenagers check their phones hourly while 50% feel they are addicted to their devices.

Unfortunately, cell phone addictions are common. Screentime can quickly swallow up the entire day as it is easy to spend continuous hours watching videos, playing games, and scrolling through social media platforms.

But how do you know if you or a loved one are spending too much time on a cellphone? 

Signs of Addiction

There are many symptoms of a cellphone addiction, which all can negatively impact livelihoods. Whether it be yourself or a loved one, understanding the signs of addiction is the first step to overcoming it. 

Watching for irregular behavior or performance helps to identify the existence of addictive attitudes. Cellphone addicts can show a variety of symptoms in various ways, but they all result in other aspects of life being affected.

Attachment

A clear sign of addiction is an attachment to their device(s). Being unable to put their phone down or resist temptation to check their notifications shows addictive behavior. Smartphone addicts are often reaching for their phone, staring at their screens, and usually tuning out the world around while engaging with their device.

The question to ask is: how often is the day spent on a mobile device? If the entirety of leisure time is spent on a cellphone, there is a probability of addiction. Smartphone usage is okay every now and then, but the day should not be spent only using the phone. If they are physically and mentally struggling with letting go of their cellphone—unable to find other modes of entertainment—they are demonstrating addictive behavior.

Addicts can spend hours at a time on their devices, unaware of the clock ticking by. 

This can affect them physically as they are often losing sleep, staying up all night on their device. Sleep schedules can become irregular and they can be acting more lethargic during the day. A lack of sleep can also lead to other health issues as they can be more prone to developing sickness. 

A cellphone attachment could mean it is difficult for them to find pleasure in other activities. The mind may be unable to dissociate from their mobile device, meaning they could be often thinking of their phone when it is not being used. 

Being attached to a cellphone can lead to a risk of life, to not only the user but also for others. Statistics show that each year more than 350,000 injuries are caused by texting and driving. Those suffering from a cellphone addiction are more likely to find themselves in an accident by not being able to ignore their mobile device.

A smartphone attachment is dangerous as it could lead to an inability to accomplish other tasks without the use of their phone. This can result in a technological dependency while other life factors—such as health and wellness—suffer. 

Agitation

Cellphone addicts often showcase negative behaviors when separated from their mobile device(s). Either through misplacement or confiscation, if removed from their phone they could exhibit frustration, anger, violence in extreme cases, and other symptoms. 

Like other addictions, withdrawal symptoms can happen once it’s taken away. Signs of withdrawal could include depression, stress, anxiety, and irritability. The length of withdrawal has no effect on symptom intensity as an hour or two could affect those addicted.

The agitated behavior toward a loss of their device can result in a disruption of family/friend relationships as well as have other negative impacts on their life. When separated from their cellphone, their emotional reactions could have damaging effects.

Mental Health

One of the harmful effects of cell phone use is the weight it puts on mental health. A common effect of smartphone usage is exposure to toxic media. Apps like Instagram or Twitter can house unhealthy content that leave harmful impacts on mental health.

Those who have excessive amounts of screentime are more prone to witness, be victims of, or commit cyberbullying. With the various chat platforms on the internet or in apps, cyberbullying is becoming harder to avoid. This can put a toll on mental health as self-esteem and other psychological elements are affected.

 

A decline in mental health could result in an emotional distance from school and family relationships. Other signs can be loss of appetite, lack of motivation, and oversleeping.

Who’s at Risk for Addiction?

Anyone can develop an addiction to smartphones: adults, teens, and children. To prevent addictive behaviors, it is recommended to limit technology use. This is especially for children as they are more susceptible at a young age.

Teenagers are more prone to develop an addiction as their lives often revolve around technology. Their education consists of device usage with smartboards, tablets, and computers. Most need access to the internet to complete their schoolwork, but not all technology use is bad or harmful. Technology can be beneficial for educational purposes, but leisure time should be watched carefully when it comes to smart devices.

Studies have shown how addicts depend on smartphones to gain control, avoid fears, or obtain independence. Those who suffer from anxiety and depression are at risk for developing a phone addiction as they often use mobile devices as an outlet to relieve their mental symptoms.

Steps to Overcoming Addiction

Support from loved ones is a key factor for overcoming addiction as the process is often difficult for the addict while they yearn to use their phone. There are various methods to assist an addict in overcoming their cellphone attachment to help break their unhealthy habits.

 

Healthy Usage

It’s important for addicts to understand how to use their phones in a healthy manner. It is crucial to communicate with them that cellphone usage can be good, if not overused. Educating them on the proper ways to use and not use mobile devices can encourage them to start making a change.

Some addicts are in denial, not realizing their habits are harmful. Informing them of the difference between health and non-healthy cellphone behaviors helps to conquer this state of denial and it opens the door to overcoming their addiction.

It’s good to still let them feel in control when it comes to their devices, but helping them understand the dangers of overuse and the tools to prevent it will assist them in making the right choices.

Boundaries and Schedules

Limiting cellphone use by setting boundaries and establishing schedules aids in teaching the addict healthy ways to use their phone. Having a consistent routine helps to rebuild healthy habits and train out unhealthy behaviors.

Screentime schedules help the addict track their screentime and helps them to not overuse their mobile device. Sleeping habits can improve as a phone bedtime is implemented. Once they are spending their nights in bed sleeping rather than on their phone, you can see their overall health and well-being get better as their body has a chance to replenish each night.

Designating certain areas of the home aids the addict in refraining from their smartphone. For example, setting the kitchen as a No Phone Zone encourages the addict to avoid using their phone while eating. This can promote a healthier dietary lifestyle and allow for further human interactions as mobile devices can be a distraction during family dinners. 

Good Example

Like the saying, “Monkey See, Monkey Do,” people follow by example. An addict can easily use the excuse, “but everyone else is doing it” to continue their unhealthy behavior. Surrounding the addict with healthy examples encourages them to retrain their habits and commit to their screen-free life.

If the addict is the only one following the boundaries and screentime schedules, it’s more difficult for them to follow through. Having friends and family—and those who may have an influence on the addict—can motivate them to keep to their new healthy cellphone lifestyle.

Other Activities

Having a reason to not depend on a cellphone is a great outlet for overcoming addiction. Giving encouragement for finding other modes of entertainment during their free time not only lets the addict get off of their phone, but it also works as a method of distraction to keep their mind off of their mobile device.

This can also have physical benefits as the addict begins to participate in healthier activities. Suggesting an activity like an occasional bike ride not only eliminates any excuse to spend time on a phone, but it also promotes a healthier lifestyle of physical activity. As they become more active, they can experience health benefits that could make them feel stronger and happier.

Conclusion

Developing a cellphone addiction is simpler than overcoming one, but with the help and support of close family and friends cellphone behaviors can improve. Cellphones are helpful as they make our lives easier, but it’s important to understand how our time should also be spent elsewhere.

Although addictive behavior may not be noticeable right away, learning to recognize the signs and understand the tools to overcome can help lifestyles become healthier. Quality of life can be affected through excessive screentime, but any negative effects of addiction can be reversed if healthy cellphone use is implemented. 

Harmful habits can quickly take control. Although it would be difficult, retraining habits are not impossible. Forte Strong aims to help men gain an independence from technology while promoting positive habits for a healthy life balance. 

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