Smartphone Addiction – What is it and how do you Spot it?

Last Updated: January 15, 2021

Over the last quarter of the century constant technological development has made the development of new media possible.1 An important milestone in the development of touch screen smartphones was the release of the first iPhone back in 2007. Today smartphones provide banking, food and beverage, messaging, video and photo capturing capabilities to their users.
Smartphones have become part of everyday life. This in the limelight seems great, as they seem to make life so much easier. However, they actually are also the cause of many problems. There is not yet enough public awareness of this situation, but the development and type of addiction based on frequency of smartphone use has been the subject of significant research and debate.
Generation Y (born 1977-1994) and generation Z (born after 1995) have had more access and integration with smartphones than generation X(born before 1977). Therefore, the younger population is faced with even more smartphone addiction.3

How Much Time Do People Spend With Smartphones?

A 2015 survey of smartphone users over the age of 18 carried out by bank of America, found that 52% checks their phones every 5 to 10 minutes. Additionally, they stated that 37% checks them while cooking, and 32% even in important meetings. Falling asleep while using a smartphone was reported by 25% of the surveyed.
What’s more, according to findings from a 2014 study on smartphones,college students show signs of anxiety when separated from their smartphone.

When Smartphone Addiction Begins

Repetitive behavior that disrupts functionality in daily life and interpersonal relations, should be considered as addictive.
It is when a substance, item or act is used to achieve satisfaction. However with prolonged use the satisfaction is harder to reach. Eventually, it becomes a priority, making it impossible to function without. If we accept this as the basic form of addiction, smartphones definitely fall under that category.It can also be correlated with other behavioural disorders such as technology, gambling and sex addiction.

What Smartphone Addiction Brings us?

Smartphones in addition to assisting everyday life, can bring about certain problems. When used correctly, they provide extremely useful and convenient features. However, subconsciously, in the case of excessive use, they can have serious adverse physical and psychological effects:

Smartphone Addiction Sign And Symptoms

Physical sign and symptoms

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: seen especially in computer addicts; causes numbness in the hand, thumb and little finger structural deterioration, pain, squeezing. Symptoms such as a decrease in strength are observed as well.
  • Paralysis in the muscles of the neck: constantly looking down while using a smartphone can cause symptoms from numbness to long-term hardening of the neck muscles.
  • Eye fatigue: constantly looking at the phone screen causes fatigue in the eyes. Eye strain, redness, and burning as well as watery eyes can be seen.

Psychological symptoms

  • Sleep problems: insomnia can be caused by staying awake till late hours on a smartphone. Also continuous exposure to blue light emitted from the screen, disrupts the quality of sleep reflecting in the decline in the success in school and work.
  • Substance addiction: there is a significant correlation between cell-phone abuse, school failure, depressive symptomatology, cannabis and other drugs smoking and consumption.
  • Associated psychiatric disorders and problems: anxiety, depression, and stress are observed, as well as problems with sleep and loneliness. Relationships between cell-phone abuse, chronic stress, emotional stability, and depression have also been found.9

Additional Side Effects of Smartphone Addiction

  • Headaches due to constantly looking at the screen,
  • Asocial tendencies in real life due to the popularization of social media and messaging applications online
  • Losing concentration during mobile phone use, leading to accidents and problems at work and in personal lives
  • Easy communication with everyone, enables unhealthy and illegal activities, without the risk of being captured,
  • Being able to interfere in people’s private lives with spyware.

What is nomophobia?

Nomophobia is an irrational fear of being without your phone, running out of battery, data or not having a connection. It is considered a modern age phobia introduced to our lives as a byproduct of the interaction between people and mobile information and communication technologies.

Smartphone Addiction Treatment

To find out more about how to spot if you are addicted go to our article on “Smartphone Addiction Signs
If you or a loved one is concerned about smartphone addiction, don’t hesitate to call our help line or check out more articles on technology addiction to learn more about the treatment options available to you.

Page Sources

  1. Davey S, Davey A (2014). "Assessment of Smartphone Addiction in Indian Adolescents: A Mixed Method Study by Systematic-review and Meta-analysis Approach". J Prev Med. 5 (12): 1500–1511.
  2. De Prato, G. Feijoo, C., Simon, J. P. (2014). Innovations in the video game industry: changing global markets, Digiworld Economic Journal, No: 94, 2nd Q., 17-38.
  3. Choudhary, A. (2014). Smartphones and their impact on net income per employee for selected U.S. Firms, Review of Business and Finance Studies, Volume: 5, Number: 2.
  4. Cell Phone Addiction Similar to Compulsive Buying and Credit Card Misuse, According to Baylor Study. (2012, November 28). Retrieved November 30, 2015,
  5. Cheever, N.A. & Larry,D.R. & Alex, F.L. (2014).Causes, effects, and practicalities of everyday multitasking. Developmental Review, Volume 35, March 2015, Pages 64–78.
  6. José De-Sola Gutiérrez, Cell-Phone Addiction: A Review, Front Psychiatry. 2016; 7: 175.
  7. Sahin S, Ozdemir K, Unsal A, Temiz N. Evaluation of mobile phone addiction level and sleep quality in university students. Pak J Med Sci (2013) 29:913–8.10
  8. Factors associated with cell phone use in adolescents in the community of Madrid (Spain).
  9. Sánchez-Martínez M, Otero A Cyberpsychol Behav. 2009 Apr; 12(2):131-7.
  10. Associations between problematic mobile phone use and psychological parameters in young adults. Augner C, Hacker GW Int J Public Health. 2012 Apr; 57(2):437-41.
  11. CaglarYildirim, Computers in Human Behavior Volume 49, August 2015, Pages 130-137, Exploring the dimensions of nomophobia: Development and validation of a self-reported questionnaire

Published on: December 8th, 2017

Updated on: January 15th, 2021


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