Let’s just admit it, most of us are mobile phone addicts. Whether covertly or overtly, and whether we admit or not, we are all hooked to these gadgets. Checking our phone is the first thing we do as soon as we wake up. It’s also the last thing we do before turning the lights off at night.

Whether cell phone addiction is an obsession or a necessity is yet to be unearthed. But it’s a fact that these little gadgets have become a part and parcel of our life. The whole universe, it looks like, has shrunken and fitted into the tiny screen we keep staring at all day long.

Some call it fascination while others call it obsession but it is pertinent to ask: what is addiction if not checking your mobile phone every two minutes for a new message, Snapchat buzz and Twitter/Facebook/WhatsApp notification?

You check your phone and put it down. Then instinctively, you pick it up again just seconds later and see what’s going on. This, my friends, is obsession.

Most people who own smartphone, tablets, iPads or other similar devices admit that they keep checking their phones or devices when they should be paying attention to something else.

There is no denying the fact that smartphones are tremendously useful; they keep us connected with our family and friends, entertain us, keep track of important everyday events, and give an access to a wealth of information. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that smartphones and gadgets have become more than a friend to us.

However, amid all the excitement and fervor of the digital advancement, we have to pause for a second and ask ourselves whether we have indulged in smartphone usage a bit too much. You should ask yourself whether your habit of using smartphone is turning into a compulsion. Is smartphone keeping you from giving enough quality time to your family and socializing with your friends? If answer to both of the questions is a yes, then it is time to worry and perhaps to self-evaluate.

Nomophobia – What’s That?

Nomophobia is the technical term for the anxiety and panic one suffers when they cannot access their smartphone or gadget. Nomophobia is “no mobile phone phobia”. Can you relate to it?

SmartPhone Addiction – An Epidemic of Global Proportions

Teenagers, whether from the US or from Taiwan, are all similar as far as gadget obsession is concerned. It won’t be wrong to equate smartphone dependence and its use with an epidemic of global proportions.

Frankly, there is no escaping from this growing trend. We live in a technologically advanced world. Pacing with the world requires progressive thinking and approach. Being the torchbearer, the youth, as they say, is always at the forefront of change. What makes them so important is the fact that apart from gelling perfectly with the current trends, they are really impressionable; a soft target for the materialistic tech sharks. Their gullibility makes them key consumers of every product promotion and sale. The youth, it seems, has been completely taken over by the “Game of Gadgets” run successfully by mobile and gadget companies.

This cellphone obsession is unhealthy. It is making our children “anti-social”. Our children’s precious and salubrious “play-time” has sadly been replaced by “screen-time”.

According to a report by the USA Today, there is an estimated 280 million mobile addicts in the world, the majority of whom is, of course, teenagers and young adults. Compared to the time when mobile phones were new, the trend of “being glued” to the gadget has increased tremendously. Users spend as much as 96 minutes per day on their phones.

Stats, Studies And Surveys Highlighting Smartphone Obsession

Despite being the “tech guru” and the inventor of world’s most technologically advanced brand – Apple – Steve Jobs was a low-tech parent. In an attempt to limit the use of technology at home, Jobs didn’t let his children use iPad until they were 11.

Steve Jobs is not alone; most of the technology chief executives and venture capitalists strictly limit their children’s screen time. Despite holding the world in the charisma of saliva-worthy tech-gadgets, the tech CEOs have banned the use of gadgets by their children on school nights. Shocking, right? But these tech parents are raising their children just the right way. So much to learn from them.

Yet the worldwide trend tells another story, a rather scary one. The youth, ostensibly dazed by the fancy world of gadgets, seems far beyond the salvage point. The storm of tech-gadgets has completely gobbled up our current generation.

A recent survey of 1,000 students in South Korea has some startling facts, where among the children aged 11-12 years, a staggering 72% owned a smartphone. This would shock and upset Steve Job’s soul up in the heavens. The survey found a close link between stress and the duration of time spent with the gadgets. These children spent an average of 5.4 hours a day on the gadgets.

Heavy mobile phone usage in such a tender age; is it stress or obsession?

Gadget addiction is giving muscoskeletal problems to our children. A report recently published in World News Report has some worrying information. Owing to an overuse of these gadgets, children are developing back and neck pain. The attendance at physiotherapy and pain centers has increased dramatically over these years. Besides the pain, the overuse of gadgets is responsible for poor performance at school.

In another inane display of smartphone addiction, a Chinese boy was reported to slice off his finger over a spat with his parents regarding his obsessive “gluing up” to phone.

Not just that, children as young as four years old have become so addicted to iPad and other gadgets, some of them require a psychological therapy. The youngest patient, aged four years, was treated for compulsive behavior in the UK. These young technology addicts are being completely swept off their tiny baby feet by the technology tornado. Parents need to be more vigilant, and less capitulating.

Currently, there are 2.5 billion smartphone users in Asia. According to Yahoo, the number of hardcore mobile users has risen by 60% over the last year. Another report says that an average Briton checks his phone 50 times a day. Americans, on the other hand, spend an average of three hours, 40 minutes on their phones every day. This is an increase of 35% from 2014.

Are You A Smartphone Addict?

You may be picking your phone several times in a day, yet you may not be what they call a “smartphone addict”. An excessive use of mobile does not make you an addict. According to Dr Griffith, Professor of Gambling Studies, Nottingham Trent University, UK, there is a difference between healthy enthusiasm and addiction. Enthusiasm, the professor believes, adds to life whereas addiction takes away from it.

In a research paper published in 2013, Dr Griffith has devised a simple test to determine whether you are addicted to these gadgets or not. A simple “yes” to at least six or more questions should raise a red flag for you, because the more “yes” you get, the higher you rank on the scale of cellphone addiction. Here are the questions:

  • “My cellphone is the most important thing in my life.”
  • “The amount of time I spend on my mobile phone has sparked conflicts between me and my family and/or my partner.”
  • “My mobile phone keeps me from doing other important things I should be doing, such as working, studying, etc.”
  • “I spend more time on my mobile phone than almost any other activity.”
  • “I use my mobile phone when I want to change my mood.”
  • “Over time, I have begun to spend more time on my mobile phone.”
  • “If I cannot use my mobile phone, I feel moody and irritable.”
  • “I can’t stay away from my phone; the urges are that strong.”
  • “Cutting down on the amount of time I spend on my mobile phone hasn’t helped me. Following a break, I always end up spending as much time on my mobile phone as I did before.”
  • “I have lied to other people about how much I use my mobile phone.”

What’s your count? Be honest!

What Experts Say

What we are calling smartphone addiction may not be addiction at all. People belonging to different strata of life are on a divide on this issue; some believe we confuse obsession with addiction whereas others believe an overwhelming use of mobile phones and other gadgets is a downright addiction – no question about it.

Dr Larry Rosen, of the California State University, belongs to the former ranks. “For most people, smartphones are more of an obsession than an addiction,” says the doctor, “we’re finding it’s the need to reduce anxiety that seems to be driving the behavior with the smartphone.”

Nonetheless, more and more studies emanating from different parts of the world are finding a close link between the overuse of smartphone and anxiety and depression. Cellphone may be oodles of fun and information, but its over-usage is detrimental to health. A new study from the University of Illinois accuses addiction to smartphones to be the chief culprit behind depression and anxiety in college students. In a survey of over 300 students, a questionnaire was circulated asking various questions related to daily gadget usage. Students who reported a high use of these gadgets scored higher on the anxiety and depression scale.

“People who self-described as having really addictive style behaviors toward the Internet and cellphones scored much higher on depression and anxiety scales,” says, Alejandro Lleras, psychology professor, who conducted this study.

How Are Countries Tackling the Threat?

In an exemplary bid to tackle the rising threat, the South Korean government comes forward as the troubleshooter. According to plans, the government will build treatment centers in the country, the children will be forced to live without smartphones and computer. All the children will be encouraged to read, play games together, and socialize with each other.

“While they’re here, they get to experience the fact that they can live without their smartphones. We believe this can give them the ability to exercise self-control,” says Shim Yong-Chool, the center’s director.

Tips To Curb The Addiction

Other than affecting your eyesight and causing muscle strain and back pain, smartphone overuse can trouble your everyday life and sour your relationships. You have no idea what you are risking; you may be too busy checking social media to engage in a healthy conversation with your family.

Whether you are hooked to the smartphone or just want to reduce its use, here are a few effective tips you can follow to reduce your reliance on your phone.

  1. Turn-off Notifications – that are not important or urgent. You can definitely afford to miss out on the pop each time someone likes your post or photo on Facebook. Set your priorities!
  2. Turn on “Do Not Disturb” Mode – This will keep you from getting distracted. Knowing that your phone won’t buzz for a certain period of time, your mind won’t nag at you with a persistent urge to check your phone.
  3. Fix Timing To Use Mobile – by creating “No Phone Time Zone”. While as important as cellphone may be, let’s just admit that majority of us use it just to distract or entertain ourselves from time to time. Dedicate an hour or two every day to use phone. Committedly avoid using it for rest of the day.
  4. Don’t Sacrifice Your Sleep Over Phone – Do yourself and others a favor, and turn your cell off as you go to bed. This is a no brainer that a sound sleep is a far better blessing than your gadget, even if it is the gilded iPhone 6s Plus.
  5. Get Real – like really real! Spend time with your parents, children and family. You will realize that being with them in real is much better than seeing and liking their posts on Facebook.