Doctors refer to smartphones as a “digital drug,” as the average person spends about one to three hours a day minimum on it.
Experts say 80 to 90 percent of people abuse or overuse their cell phones, but when does it become an addiction and how can you break the bad habit?
There are warning signs, experts say.
For most people, their smartphone is the first thing they look at in the morning and the last thing before bed.
"The average user checks their phone 50 to 300 times a day,” said Dr. David Greenfield, who is a psychologist and professor at UConn who founded the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction.
That’s five to six years of your life spent staring at a screen.
"You are never really off, you are never really disconnected,” Greenfield said.
He said your phone is like the world’s smallest slot machine.
“What people are doing is they are elevating dopamine and elevating these pleasure chemicals without realizing it. The phone is really a dopamine pump, it's like a hypodermic, they don't understand that but that’s what we are doing,” Greenfield said. “The notifications let you know the reward is waiting.”
So, when does checking social media and scrolling your smartphone become dangerous?
“The big impact that really separates an addict someone who needs help from somebody who is just overusing it, is that does it really interfere with your life in some serious way,” Greenfield said.
He said being connected online can leave you feeling disconnected in life.
“If you're staring at a screen, not only are you socially isolating yourself but you're communicating a message to everyone around you, that you are totally no available to connect socially,” Greenfield said.
If this sounds like you, then you may need a digital detox.
Greenfield said you can turn off your notifications, and don’t sleep with your phone next to your bed.
Also, don’t look at it an hour before you go to sleep.
“If you have a meal, your phone should not be a part of the place setting. I don't care whether you're alone or with friends, try to train yourself to be bored. We've actually become intolerant of boredom,” Greenfield said.
Like any addiction, you may experience withdrawal, but unplugging could be the quickest cure.
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