A behavioral addiction occurs when an activity that gives you a reward becomes something you can no longer control. Just like with drug abuse, a certain behavior can make you feel good and you’ll want to repeat it. When you are engaging in the behavior to the point that other aspects of your life suffer and you can’t control your actions, you have become addicted. One very modern example of this is smartphone addiction. Most of us are glued to our phones throughout the day, but there is a line separating the addicts from everyone else. Here are some sure signs that you have crossed that line:
- You panic when you can’t find your phone. You know that moment, just a few seconds, as you fumble in your purse for your phone and you can’t seem to find it? Panic sets in, your heart races and you start to think of all the places you could have left it. Then you experience intense relief when your hand finally grasps it in the far corner of your bag.
- Your vision is fading and your head hurts. Research suggests that screen time is making our vision worse. The more time you spend looking at your phone’s screen, the worse your vision will be. Screen time also causes headaches.
- You and your partner fight about your phone time. Your constant use of your phone is starting to damage your most important relationship, and yet you can’t seem to put it down at dinner, out on a date, when watching TV or even in bed.
- You use your phone when driving. You would have to reside in a cave or under a rock to not know that texting and driving is incredibly dangerous. And yet, you can’t resist taking a peek at the screen while you’re driving your car. Once you take a peek, you can’t resist sending that text or updating your status.
- You get phantom vibrations. This is a real phenomenon. You have your phone on vibrate to catch texts, calls and other notes. You think you feel it go off, pull it out of your pocket and find that nothing happened. You imagined the vibration.
- Your hand cramps up. That claw-like way you grip the phone can cause cramping and pain. You find that you need to rub your sore hand after using your phone.
- You’re getting a sore neck and bad posture. When you use your smartphone, especially when typing on it, you naturally lean forward. You do it so often that your posture is suffering and your neck and shoulders are sore and cramped.
- You’re not sleeping well. You take your phone to bed and work on it before you fall asleep. You check it as soon as you wake up in the morning. The cold glow of a screen before bedtime is not conducive to good sleep. It makes it more difficult for you to sleep, and your sleep is of lower quality.
Many of us could be described as being over-users of our smartphones. We no longer memorize phone numbers and we can barely get around without its comforting GPS. However, most of us are not addicts. We can stop and we can put the phone away for a couple hours at a time. If you’re concerned about your phone use, try to take some time away from it. If you find you can’t, seek professional help from a trained addiction counselor.