Do you feel anxious when you can’t connect with friends and family via your smartphone? Does a wave of panic strike when you get an alert that your cell phone is running out of battery power? Do you have trouble turning off your phone or other device to sleep at night or when you’re having dinner with family or friends?
All of these can be warning signs of a cell phone addiction.
Discovering whether you or a family member has a dependency on mobile technology starts with considering whether it is having an adverse effect on your life, says Dr. Victor Archambeau, a physician who actively incorporates substance abuse recovery into his practice at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Pawleys Island.
Research has shown the average American checks a mobile phone every 12 minutes, and that the average user touches, taps and swipes a cell phone more than 2,600 times per day.
“An addiction is defined as when you continue to do something in spite of its negative effects on you,” Archambeau says.
Have you gotten into a traffic accident because you feel the compulsion to constantly check your phone? Is your productivity at work dipping because you are glued to your phone or tablet?
“We can all recognize these aren’t good things,” Archambeau says. “It’s important to be cognizant of the impact that using your mobile device has on your life. If phone use starts to interfere with normal activities, it’s time to step back and start reconsidering how much you’re using it.”
Relationships require communication to thrive, and Archambeau notes that communication becomes difficult when people are staring at their cell phones rather than interacting. He also worries the Internet has made it possible for people to act less courteously than they might in person.
“I think the cell phone has taken the place of civil discourse in the community. It has become a crutch to lean on,” he says.
The concept of dependency on mobile devices has become so accepted that a name — Nomophobia (“no mobile phone phobia,”) — has been coined to describe the irrational fear of not being able to use your cell phone, tablet or other smart device.
Archambeau says it is a good idea to limit use of mobile technology. Turn off your cell phone at night or during meals. Pack it out of reach when you’re driving.
If you feel you or your child has a more challenging problem, Archambeau suggests seeking the help of a professional.
“If using a cellphone is creating a problem in your life, I’d suggest speaking to a counselor,” he says. “I think the best way to address it is to enlist the help of someone else. In my experience, that tends to be true with any addiction.”
Dr. Victor Archambeau
Family Medicine Physician, Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Pawleys Island
Tidelands Health family medicine physician Dr. Victor Archambeau provides care at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Pawleys Island.Learn More
- University of South Carolina School of Medicine
- McLeod Regional Medical Center
- American Board of Family Medicine
Meet the Expert
Dr. Victor Archambeau
Tidelands Health family medicine physician Dr. Victor Archambeau provides care at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Pawleys Island.