Are smartphones addictive?

smartphone-addiction-1Smartphones, say some, are addictive and we should be warned against regular use. So, should the smartphone industry be worried? Analyst Ben Wood from CCS Insight does not think so.

The smartphone has become part of the fabric of today’s society,” he told the BBC, adding it was ‘the most prolific consumer electronics device on the planet and it seems most people can’t live without one.”

To illustrate, he says we have now reached the point where there are more smartphones than people in the UK.

“It seems like the whole population is hooked,” he concluded.

And, according to a study by Texas’s Baylor University, smartphones can actually be as addicting as drugs and alcohol for some.
The head of the study, Professor James Robert, said people can be addicted to behaviours and that habitual cellphone users can begin to depend on their phone in ways that seem quite similar to how people respond to drugs.

For example, spending time away from the phone can make them feel anxious or panicky, looking a bit like withdrawal. A dead battery can cause right-out chaos and anxiety.

Furthermore, a number of addicted smartphone users find that cellphone use can lift their moods, and that it takes an increasing amount of time to get the same level of enjoyment from their phone than it did when they first started using a smartphone.

Slightly less concerned is Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit.

Most people habitually use their phone; they use it a lot, but it’s not what I would call an addiction,” he explains. “Just because something is very important in your life, and you carry it everywhere, and when you forget it, you feel like your left arm’s missing, that doesn’t mean that you’re addicted.

“Often, the excessive use is symptomatic of other underlying problems in that person’s life. Therapeutically, if you find out what that problem is, then the excessive use can disappear.”

Dealing with addictions, unwanted behaviours, anxieties and similar issues is all in a day’s work for clinical hypnotherapists and the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) – as the largest not-for-profit professional association for therapists across the UK – is well-placed to offer help.

The NCH defines problem behaviour as an unwanted habit or addiction, something you feel you have no control over which affects your life and the lives of those you care about.

“Habits such as overeating or smoking are the most common,” says the NCH, “but there are many other behaviours that affect people’s lives, make them unhappy or cause a risk to their health and the health of those around them.”

If you have an unwanted habit or behaviour, adds the NCH, it may often feel as if you are out of control, that there is someone else or something inside of you that is making you do this.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine notes that behavioural addictions can produce similar feelings to drug addictions. These emotions can take on the role of producing highs, tolerance, and withdrawal.

By working with the subconscious mind, a hypnotherapist can deal directly with these issues. When it comes to reducing anxiety, the therapist will assess the anxiety, identify the root and then set to allow a life free of anxiety.

“They will then work with you to reach your goals using a range of different techniques. Every therapist may use slightly different techniques, but working towards the same goal,” says the NCH.

This can cure the ‘addiction’ and dependency on the internet and the need to be connected. And that’s a good thing!

After all, a recent Canadian study showed that those who were constantly ‘plugged in’ to technology all throughout the day (TV, smartphones, computers) were significantly more stressed than those who took time to ‘unplug’ during designated time blocks each day.