Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (for example, alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (such as gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health. People who have developed an addiction may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others. – Psychology Today

Mobile phone addiction? It’s time to take back control

With more than half of young adults admitting to excessive use of smartphones, we look at the apps designed to break the habit


When Deloitte surveyed 4,150 British adults in 2017 about their mobile habits, 38% said they thought they were using their smartphone too much. Among 16- to 24-year-olds, that rose to more than half. Habits such as checking apps in the hour before we go to sleep (79% of us do this, according to the study) or within 15 minutes of waking up (55%) may be taking their toll on our mental health.

“It’s not necessarily the top thing when my clients come in, but it’s often in the mix, tied in with anxiety or insomnia or relationship issues,” says psychotherapist Hilda Burke, a spokesperson for National Unplugging Day in 2016 and 2017. “Particularly when anxiety and insomnia’s there, it’s rare that it’s not related in some way to heavy use of digital devices.”

Often, the apps themselves aren’t helping: from games to social networks, they’re precision engineered to create and feed our interaction neediness. According to British apps developer Nick Kuh: “A lot of these companies are employing behavioural psychologists to really nail that: finding ways to draw you back in. I’ve worked on apps like that myself, and it’s not something I’m proud of.”

“It’s so powerful to be truly bored: nothing in your head, so you can daydream. I think that’s when great ideas come”

Kuh is trying to make amends: his latest app is called Mute, and launched for iPhone this month (free). It’s one of several apps – Space and Moment are others – that track how often you unlock your phone and how much time you spend using it, in order to help you reduce your time on it.

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Phone Addiction Is Real – And So Are Its Mental Health Risks


A lot of us must be wondering if we’re hooked on our tech: Searches for “phone addiction” have risen steadily in the past five years, according to Google Trends, and “social media addiction” trails it closely. Interestingly, phone addiction and social media addiction are closely intertwined, especially for younger people, who probably aren’t playing chess on their phones or even talking on them—they’re on social media. And according to a growing number of studies, it’s looking more and more like this pastime is addictive. Even more concerning is the fact that this addiction is linked to some serious mental health risks.assorted_digital_georgianbaynews

But the reality, especially for younger people, is that phone use, especially heavy use, isn’t so lighthearted. A study last month looked at the rise in depression and suicide in teenagers in recent years. The CDC had noted a rise in the rates of both over the years 2010-2015, and found that girls were particularly at risk: Their suicide rate rose by 65% in those five years. The number of girls with severe depression rose by 58%.

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Social Media, Not Phones, Get Kids Addicted


So what’s the biggest time hog on the smart phone? According to Comscore’s 2017 Mobile App Report, adults spend more than half their total screen time in the five most-used apps, and tend to select Facebook as their “most essential.” That makes it likely the most addictive substance in the app world.

Like-UsFacebook has been pushing back against the idea that spending time on social media is inevitably bad for you. In a recent post, Director of Research David Ginsberg and research scientist Moira Burke posited that “engaging” — leaving comments, sharing content and exchanging messages, as opposed to idly scrolling through a feed — can make people feel better. Yet aside from suggesting a self-serving cure (do more stuff on Facebook!), their argument ignores the nature of addiction. Addicts often feel great when they have an ample supply of the desired substance. Consider the 10 million interactions attracted by one of this year’s most viral Facebook posts, a video titled “This Guy Just Sang Whitney Houston Live You’ve Never Heard.” All that engagement might have given people a dopamine boost, but the time would almost certainly have been better spent doing almost anything else, except perhaps heroin.

What really matters isn’t whether Facebook makes people feel good, but whether they’re wasting time on shallow relationships and unproductive pursuits. The social network’s scientists profess to know little about this: “We know that people are concerned about how technology affects our attention spans and relationships, as well as how it affects children in the long run,” Ginsberg and Burke wrote. “We agree these are critically important questions, and we all have a lot more to learn.” Which means we’re left to make judgments based on personal experience rather than big data.

When I was an active Facebook user, I would get birthday greetings from about 600 people. I wasted hours pasting in “thank you” as I struggled to remember who some of them were. This year, I stopped posting, leaving comments or even clicking “like.” I closed my timeline, so people could send greetings only by commenting on an old post or sending me a message. Fewer than 100 people did — still about 90 more than actually cared about my birthday. My life was unchanged. The dozen people who mattered would call or write even if Mark Zuckerberg had never started Facebook.

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