I always knew I was a smartphone freak, but never considered myself a smartphone addict until last week. All the signs were there: I always got withdraw symptoms when separated from my smartphone; I always slept with my smartphone right by my pillow; and I always had to look at my smartphone at least once every five minutes—even when working out or hanging out with friends.
A family dinner at Dave’s BBQ made me realize that my addiction is serious, even if it isn’t life threatening. I also realized that I wasn’t the only one who was addicted. I took out my Galaxy Note 4 in the middle of a conversation with my mom, who yelled, “Talk to me!” I then looked at the table of ten people and saw that six others were looking at their smartphones. “What has this world become?” I thought to myself.
A recent survey revealed that one-third of adults consider themselves addicted to their smartphones. So far, smartphone addiction has not been considered a true medical disorder, but it should be. Like drugs, smartphones can create disastrous effects. This is why we have seen several cases where people, who just can’t wait until they are done driving, text others and cause fatal accidents. It’s just as bad as driving drunk.
I thought about this while looking at everybody type away on their screens. I mentioned my smartphone addiction to my niece’s husband. He set the timer on his iPhone for fifteen minutes and I agreed not to touch or even look at my smartphone for that period of time. The first five minutes were awful. However, the next ten minutes felt incredible—I felt a type of freedom my senses haven’t felt in a long time.
Smartphone addiction can’t be instantly cured, but you can take steps. You obviously need your smartphone for important tasks, but should time yourself—let’s say for five minutes—so you don’t waste two hours looking at Instagram or constantly pressing the “Refresh” button on your mail app. Give yourself specific time periods where you absolutely cannot touch your smartphone, unless you have an important phone call. I have designated 12 p.m. to 8 a.m. for my “Free the Smartphone” time.
Smartphones are important; they can help you organize tasks and communicate with people in a way you couldn’t just ten years ago. They are also beautiful and—for some—are part of their personal style. However, smartphones should never rule your life. More importantly, smartphones should never kill you.