Phone Addiction: Warning Signs And Treatment (2022)

What Is Phone Addiction?

Phone addiction is the obsessive use of a smartphone. The behavioral addiction is often dubbed as “nomophobia,” or the fear of being without a mobile device. There are over 3.8 billion smartphone users in the world. Research published by Virgin Mobile discovered that those billions of smartphone users receive 427% more messages and notifications than they did a decade ago. They also send 278% more texts. The rise in phone use seems like a natural necessity for modern life, however, it can also cause concern and negative consequences. The heavy use of these devices has consumers questioning their cellular habits. According to Google Trends, since 2004 searches for “cell phone addiction” have been rising.

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(Video) 【Smartphone Addiction】 Warning Signs and Treatment

Designed To Be Addictive

Access to a smartphone can make life easier by making information accessible. Still, the convenience comes at a price. The devices are carefully designed to be hard to put down. Through its colors, sounds, and vibrations, the technology purposely keeps its users engaged. According to former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris, features like “pull to refresh” were inspired by slot machines and other casino games. Designers and engineers meticulously develop every aspect of the device to create fanatical users.

Negative Effects Of Phone Addiction

Chronic phone use is a recently developed form of addiction. The American Psychiatric Association does not officially recognize the condition. Still, it is acknowledged as a behavioral addiction by many medical professionals and researchers worldwide. According to several studies, over time, the devoted use of smartphones can alter and negatively impact an individual much like gambling.

Phone addiction may lead to:

  • Sleep deficit
  • Lower concentration
  • Creativity blocks
  • Aggravated ADD
  • Anxiety
  • Reduced cognition
  • Stress
  • Loneliness
  • Insecurity
  • Impaired relationships
  • Poor grades
  • Psychological disorders

Chronic phone use can also cause other physical dysfunctions, like GABA (a neurotransmitter in the brain) dysfunction and a loss of grey matter in the brain, which are highly correlated to substance use disorders.

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GABA Dysfunction

Chronic phone overuse is proven to change reward circuits in the brain chemically. One of the primary affected neurotransmitters is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that produces a calming or euphoric effect. It can even control fear and anxiety. The inhibitor plays a significant role in addiction by rewarding substance use and reinforcing addictive behaviors.

Research shows that chronic phone use can increase or decrease GABA production. Disturbances to the GABA system are proven to be a warning sign of addiction. In a study by the Radiological Society of North America, heavy phone use was linked to an upsetting ratio of GABA to other neurotransmitters. When the teen test subjects received cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the disorder, their brain chemistry reverted to a non-addicted ratio.

Decrease In Grey Matter

Grey matter in the brain is connected to the part of the central nervous system responsible for enabling individuals to control movement, memory, and emotions. A recent study scanned participants’ brains with a phone addiction and discovered a change in their brain’s grey matter. According to the researchers, the physical shape and size of their brains resembled that of drug users. Grey matter volume among people addicted to their phones diminished in critical areas, a condition similarly observed in people with a substance use disorder.

(Video) The Truth About Smartphone Addiction (MUST WATCH)

Suicide

It is important to note that there has also been a rise in depression and suicide among teenagers in recent years correlated to phone addiction. Adolescent girls are particularly susceptible to the risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2010-2015, the suicide rate rose by 65%. At the same time, the rate of severe depression among girls increased by 58%. Many researchers believe the rise in suicides is a direct reflection of the negative effects of phone addiction.

Signs And Symptoms Of Phone Addiction

There is a fine line between healthy and compulsive mobile use. Depending too heavily on a device can lead to a mobile addiction. A scholarly journal published by the National Library of Medicine reports that 6.3% of the overall population is addicted to their smartphone. The pattern of abuse is greatest among those under 30, with an average of 16% of adolescents addicted. Though chronic phone use is prevalent, how can you distinguish between “normal” phone use and phone addiction?

Below are a few ways to discern if someone has signs and symptoms of a phone addiction:

  • Lying about smartphone use.
  • Loved ones expressing concern.
  • Neglect or trouble completing duties at work, school, or home.
  • More and more time using a phone.
  • Checking peoples’ profiles repeatedly due to anxiety.
  • Accidents or injury due to phone use.
  • Working later to complete tasks.
  • Weak or non-existent social life.
  • Isolation from loved ones.
  • A feeling of lack of connection.
  • Angry or irritated if phone use is interrupted.
  • Getting up at night to check a phone.
  • Reaching for the phone the moment they are alone or bored.
  • Phantom vibrations (thinking the phone buzzes when it doesn’t).
  • Limiting phone use is difficult.
  • Craving access to a smartphone or another device.
  • Fear of missing out.

It is essential to remember that there is no specific amount of time, frequency, or messages sent that indicates phone addiction. Yet an accumulation of the above warning signs is an indicator of an underlying phone use problem.

Phone Addiction Treatment

Phone addiction is pervasive. Still, there are ways to combat and treat the disorder. There are specialized addiction treatment centers that can help. Some of these detox centers offer a variety of programs to help their patients kick the digital addiction.

Below are a few treatment approaches used by facilities to treat phone addiction:

(Video) Cell phone addiction can cause chronic pain and neurological symptoms

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Marriage or couples counseling
  • Group support (e.g., Internet Tech Addiction Anonymous)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Medication-assisted treatment

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Over 3 Million people have turned to BetterHelp for professional online therapy.Take the quiz and get matched with a therapist.

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Don’t Let Phone Addiction Win

Though smartphones are an excellent resource, they also can be potentially dangerous tools, especially for children and young adults. The extent of issues that arise from excessive phone use is still not completely understood. However, as science continues to link health problems to cell phone use, it is essential to be proactive.

(Video) PHONE Addiction : Warning Signs And Treatment / கை-தொலைப்பேசிக்கு அடிமையாதளின் அறிகுறி

If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, there are steps you can take. Do not let a phone consume anyone’s life. Take an empowered step towards recovery, possibly by delineating a short timeframe in which to complete an all-out “phone detox.” If that’s not feasible for you or for the one with the problem, then bring as much awareness to the issue as you can — sometimes, being conscious of our issues and tracking our behavior as best we can is all we can do.

To make that first step toward recovery, get matched with a therapist today.

FAQs

How do you treat cell phone addiction? ›

7 Proven Ways to Break Your Cell Phone Addiction
  1. Set aside one day/week. ...
  2. Use a 30-Day Experiment to reset your usage. ...
  3. Use apps to bolster self-control. ...
  4. Don't charge your phone near your bed. ...
  5. Put your phone away when you walk in the door. ...
  6. Change your phone settings. ...
  7. Put a hairband around your phone.

What happens if someone is addicted to mobile phone? ›

Headaches, weakened eyesight, sleep disorders, depression, stress, social isolation, aggressive behavior, financial problems and ruined relationships as well as no or low professional growth are some of the problems that a person suffering from mobile addiction might have to undergo.

Is there any medicine for mobile addiction? ›

Pharmacotherapy: Although there are no medications approved by FDA to treat smartphone or mobile addiction, when combined with psychotherapy, medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and psychostimulants can help to treat Internet addiction.

How do I stop mobile addiction psychology? ›

Self-Treatment for Cell Phone Addiction

Make rules for yourself concerning your phone usage. Set time periods in which you shouldn't use your phone (i.e., 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.). Designate activities in which your phone is forbidden (e.g., driving, dinner time). Schedule break times to access your phone or social media.

What happens when you use phone too much? ›

Excessive smartphone use can disrupt your sleep, which can have a serious impact on your overall mental health. It can impact your memory, affect your ability to think clearly, and reduce your cognitive and learning skills.

How many hours on phone is addiction? ›

Around a quarter of those who showed signs of addiction used their phone for three hours a day, and a further 18.5 per cent said they used their device for more than five hours each day.

How does phone addiction affect mental health? ›

The majority of those who scored high on the fear of missing out tend to overuse their phones. Similarly, these individuals score high on anxiety and depression scales. That is because excessive use of smartphones interferes with social activities and therefore increases depression.

How do you treat nomophobia? ›

Drugs like benzodiazepines and antidepressants (in normal dosage) are sometimes used in severe cases to control the symptoms. Tranylcypromine and Clonazepam combination are used quite successfully for treating nomophobia cases. Though these drugs are formulated to anxiety disorders and not for nomophobia directly.

What causes phone addiction? ›

Why is it addictive? Psychologists liken cell phones to slot machines. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that induces happiness. It is released every time we receive a message, alert, notification, etc., on our phones.

Does too much phone cause anxiety? ›

"If you're constantly connected, you're going to feel anxiety," researcher says. A new "GMA" parenting alert looks into how much anxiety using your phone may be causing you, or your children.

How do you treat nomophobia? ›

Drugs like benzodiazepines and antidepressants (in normal dosage) are sometimes used in severe cases to control the symptoms. Tranylcypromine and Clonazepam combination are used quite successfully for treating nomophobia cases. Though these drugs are formulated to anxiety disorders and not for nomophobia directly.

How many hours on phone is addiction? ›

Around a quarter of those who showed signs of addiction used their phone for three hours a day, and a further 18.5 per cent said they used their device for more than five hours each day.

What is phone phobia called? ›

Recognised as an offshoot of social anxiety disorder, telephobia afflicts people across countries and generations. Those who suffer from telephobia might be comfortable delivering a talk in a room full of strangers or might send dozens of text messages a day, but get shivers when they need to talk on the phone.

When did phone addiction start? ›

History and terminology

Researchers have variously termed these behaviours "smartphone addiction" and "problematic smartphone use", as well as referring to use of non-smartphone mobile devices (cell phones). Forms of technology addiction have been considered as diagnoses since the mid 1990s.

How does phone addiction affect mental health? ›

The majority of those who scored high on the fear of missing out tend to overuse their phones. Similarly, these individuals score high on anxiety and depression scales. That is because excessive use of smartphones interferes with social activities and therefore increases depression.

What does cell phone addiction cause? ›

Results: Comorbidity with depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD and alcohol use disorder. Excessive smartphone use is associated with difficulties in cognitive-emotion regulation, impulsivity, impaired cognitive function, addiction to social networking, shyness and low self-esteem.

Videos

1. Addiction to Technology is Ruining Lives - Simon Sinek on Inside Quest
(Andre White)
2. How I Cured My Phone Addiction
(Nate O'Brien)
3. Cottage Health discusses early warning signs of opioid addiction
(News Channel 3-12)
4. Signs and Symptoms of Cell Phone Addiction
(Magsasakang Marino)
5. How Smartphones Sabotage Your Brain's Ability to Focus | WSJ
(Wall Street Journal)
6. Social Media addiction - Short Movie
(Bilal Farooq)

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