Are you addicted to your phone?
There are so many screens to look at. That means an average American adult spends more than 11 hours a day interacting with technology, Neilsen estimates. It might be more nowadays.
What does that mean for your mental health?
“Research has shown both a correlational and causal relationship between tech use and various mental health conditions,” says Dr. Eric Smiltneek, an addiction medicine physician at Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Oshkosh, Wis. “In fact, we are finding higher rates of depression and anxiety among young adults who engage in multiple social media platforms.”
How do you know if you have a technology addiction?
Dr. Smiltneek says to ask yourself these questions:
- Have you noticed an increase in how often you use your device?
- Have you felt guilty about how often you use your device?
- Do you experience an urge to use your device?
- When you are using your device, do you experience a lift in your mood?
- Do you feel panicked when you are not by your device?
If you answered yes to all or many of the above questions, here are a few ways to help curb your addiction:
- Reach for gym shoes instead of your phone as soon as your alarm goes off. A morning walk or jog will get your blood flowing and your mind ready for the day. “I teach elementary school students about staying active, and we discuss how active time should exceed screen time,” Dr. Smiltneek says. “This is true for both adults and children.”
- Stop making yourself available 24/7. “I like to do activities that are not device-friendly, such as sailing in the summer and ice skating in the winter,” Dr. Smiltneek says. “My phone then needs to be either safe in the car or in a compartment that is difficult to access in order to stay warm and dry.” Doing activities like these allow you to reconnect with what is happening around you and not what is on your screen. It also provides a nice break from constant communication.
- Don’t rely on the web for everything. Remember when you used to use a map to get somewhere, took a wrong turn, made it to your destination, but created lasting memories along the way? Instead of trusting your devices and the web to give you the best advice, step out of your comfort zone. Try that restaurant that smells good every time you pass it, but have never dined at!
Taking a few moments each day to disconnect from devices can help your mental health and curb your possible addiction to technology. The technology that we have at our fingertips 24/7 is an incredible thing. It’s neither all good nor all bad, but you should try to find a healthy, happy medium.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.