Could having a cell phone addiction be you? It is noticeable in all bars, restaurants, parties, sports events, or anywhere else that people gather or socialize. The constant checking the cell phone for texts, texting from the phone, checking for Facebook messages, the sound of push notifications, and now email. Oh yeah, and sometimes we even talk on our phones.
It seems obvious to me that a cell phone addiction is similar to compulsive buying or substance addictions. However, just because is fits into an addiction category, it is so widespread that it is not noticed as a problem. It is simply the way it is.
A New Fear:
There is even, get this, a new “fear” that has joined the ranks of other fears like “arachnophobia,” “agoraphobia” and “germaphobia” and yes it has to do with cell phones. It is called nomophobia, and it is the fear of losing your cell phone. While it's not a designated mental illness, it's a new popular way of describing this phenomenon.
How many of us have been out for an evening, or at a party, and cannot, for the life of us, locate our phone? How has that affected the enjoyment of our evening? Yes, it is weird.
Our IPhones and smartphones and other electronics, like our electronic tablets and lap top computers, have made us very dependent on being constantly connected to others. We fuel this need through text messages, phone calls, email, Facebook, and other forms of social media.
Many of us, although maybe not suffering from full on nomophobia, are experiencing at least a significant attachment to our phones.
This attachment, like other addictions, has an impact on our loved ones, families, and ourselves. Like drugs, alcohol, or gambling, constantly checking your mobile device can ruin your personal relationships, and impact your profession and your work day. For younger people, it decreases their academic performance, face-to-face social communication, and ability to manage effective and healthy personal relationships.
Many people feel anxious, depressed, and edgy when they don't have their cell phones near by and tend to feel that they would experience significant relief if they just had their phone. Seems like addiction doesn’t it?
Although most would probably think of their cell phone use as just a habit, when you look at the symptoms of cell phone addiction, it is clear that, for many, the habit has crossed that line and become an addiction.
Here are some signs that I have come up with that I think are associated with a cell phone addiction.
How far along are you in terms of your symptoms?
How do these cell phone addiction-type behaviors affect those around you?
What impression are you giving?
Is this the impression you intend to give?
When you answer the phone during the middle of the conversation with your child, you are probably not so subtly letting them know that they are not so important, or that what they have to say is not as important as the distraction of your phone call. Maybe you don’t actually feel that way, but that is the message you are giving. Face it.
When you are at a meeting and you check your cell phone, it tells the people you are meeting with that you are not 100% focused on them or the meeting, and are certainly distracted by something else that is potentially important. This is a bad message for clients especially, and one you probably do not intend to give.
When you are at a party and you constantly check your phone, it tells those around you that the party is boring. It affects the overall “party juju.” It states to others at the party that what is possibly happening elsewhere is more interesting than the event at hand. This is the same for when you are at restaurant or pub.
When you leave your cell phone sitting on the table during a dinner out “just in case,” you deliver a message to your dinner date that while you are okay about having dinner with them, you will keep your phone out, just in case something or someone more interesting comes along.
When you keep the beeping sound on it totally distracts the conversation at hand. Even if you think in your head, “what my friend is saying is important and I will check my message later,” the beeping sound is still distracting to your friend. No matter what, that beeping sound came into the middle of your conversation.
14 ways to tame your cell phone addiction
(even if you don't think you have one):
Okay, okay, you get it. Now what? I think we should at least consider doing something about it. Instead of accepting our quickly changing culture to include constant cell phone distraction, what can we do now to shift that? Below are some ideas. Now, maybe you are not interested in taking on my challenges, however, it should at least give you cause to think.
Oh yeah, and to be totally clear, I LOVE my IPhone and I am lost without it. I am a self-disclosed nomophobic. I have it beside my bed and I check it in the morning when I wake up. I have it with me at meetings and have certainly been guilty of checking it during social engagements. My daughter has become frustrated with me when I have been playing with it instead of watching her do something that she is showing me. I have also gotten distracted by my phone when my daughter has been mid-sentence in telling me something. So, the challenges below are ones that I am working on myself and encourage you to join me on.
Take charge of your cell phone habits:
Written by Val Hemminger, the nonconforming professional