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5 Signs of Unhealthy Smartphone Addiction

Drew is a licensed pharmacist and researcher. Has hands-on knowledge about the health risks brought by cigarette smoke exposure.

Are you always craning your neck at your phone?

Are you always craning your neck at your phone?

Tech Addiction

It was a sunny day. A perfect time for a good jog. You put on your shoes and running gear. The plan today is a four-mile run. On your way, you passed through a park and saw a group of young kids. Smartphones in their hands, all heads lowered. A few blocks more, now you see young adults, their necks zeroing on their mobile phones.

Then, you raised your head in the skies. You wondered, what the heck is happening?

Have you ever seen this on your walk? Did you wonder why there are so many people walking with smartphones on their faces? These days, it is perfectly normal to have a smartphone. If you have none, you're out. It’s already a necessity for the younger generation.

What Is Smartphone Addiction?

Data shows that it is expected that there would be at least 3.8 billion smartphone users in the world by 2021. Hey, that’s almost half of the world’s population. Believe it or not, it's not decreasing but still increasing. No wonder those smartphone companies are scrambling to gain those profits.

Even so, did you know that your smartphone can turn you into an addict? Yep, those awesome smartphones can make a troublesome addict out of you. Of course, that’s if you don’t use it wisely. After all, all things in excess are nothing but poison.

Anyway, here are five evidence-based signs of unhealthy smartphone use. Signs that you are getting addicted to your smartphone.

  1. Waking up Multiple Times to Check the Smartphone
  2. Loss of Control and Anger Issues
  3. Everyone Is Starting to Get Worried About You
  4. You Feel Anxious Without Your Smartphone
  5. More Time With Your Smartphone, Less Time for Others

What are you waiting for? Let’s read on.

1. Waking up Multiple Times to Check the Smartphone

Have you heard of nomophobia? Nope. This term was coined to describe the fear of being without a mobile phone or even without access to it. I knew a few people getting so anxious that they can’t get a moment of rest due to social media and the internet.

Smartphone addiction could be changing your brain. It affects how you think and even how you view others.

Believe it or not, some even wake up in the middle of the night. Not to pee but all just to check their phones. That’s one of the glaring signs of smartphone addiction.

So have you seen it on your kids? Or perhaps even in you?

2. Loss of Control and Anger Issues

I have personally experienced this. Yep, not my brothers or family members. But smartphone addiction signs appeared in me. What did I do? I reigned myself in, but never quit. Well, what can I say?

Studies show that loss of control such as outbursts of anger is a sign of psychological dependence. The feeling of wanting to quit but you couldn’t. An apt description of addiction.

Alcoholics, smokers, and even drug dependents do experience this issue. So if see yourself or a kid experiencing this, treat it as a warning. That’s why you shouldn’t placate your children with smartphones or gadgets when they cry. Talk to them. Oh, please don’t forget to add some limitations before it's too late.

3. Everyone Is Starting to Get Worried About You

This one is personal. When everyone is already asking if there’s something is wrong with you. It’s a warning sign. Humans are fickle creatures. They see what’s wrong with others, but fail to see what’s wrong in themselves. A reason why you should be discerning about your current situation.

A good example is when your mom tells you, “Hey Jonny, ain’t you spending too much time on your smartphone?” Or maybe this one, “Dear you’re spending more time on your phone than on me.” Hey, those are frigging alarm bells!

Studies show that it’s a bad sign of addiction. How so? Most of the time, other people know us even better than ourselves. Your loved ones are sensitive when something is wrong with you. Yep, especially your wife, her intuition is far sharper than a kitchen blade.

So when someone seems worried about your smartphone usage, listen to them. It’s a sign that you're losing focus on reality. Believe me, hearing them out is not for their good. But for your good.

4. You Feel Anxious Without Your Smartphone

Don’t scroll down that smartphone you silly reader. Heh, guilty as charged, right? No worries; even I am sometimes guilty of this. That’s why I’m doing my best to write and make myself more productive.

Research shows that having your smartphone in mind even when you are not using it is a sign of addiction. It’s called salience. It is when you feel like you can’t live without the subject of your obsession.

For smokers, it’s a cigarette. For alcoholics, it's alcohol. For drug abusers? Well, I guess you know the answer or that. So, what about a smartphone addict? Heck, you guess it right—a smartphone. See the analogy.

5. More Time With Your Smartphone, Less Time for Others

A smartphone obsession is more of behavioral addiction. And since it affects the behavior of a person, you can expect a lot of effects on their social life. Parents are you there? This is something you should be wary of in your kids.

If you look at Steve Jobs and Bill Gates as well as look at various studies. You will realize why they limited the use of technology of their kids and maybe their use too. Studies showed that mobile phone use peaks during the teen years. A time when kids are the most vulnerable.

It is very important for children to develop not only mentally but also socially. After all, just like the saying goes, no man is an island. No, seriously. Your child will one day have to deal with other people. Whether your kid wants it or not.

Hey, this goes for adults too. Don’t start nagging and pointing fingers. When you spend time with your younger brothers, sisters, dads, moms, children, wife, or husband. Move that smartphone away from your oily grip. Spend your time with them. You will never regret it.

The Takeaway

Many young people are suffering from this social issue. The millennial generation (1980-1994), as well as Gen Z (1995-2010), seem to be the most affected. Perhaps you can even see its effect on your family. Just a piece of advice. Parents, children, and even young adults should read this. Be watchful. It will also be nice if you can share this information with others.

It’s one of the reasons why I love writing about this topic. I want to make others aware and responsible using those tech gadgets. My advocacy.

Oh, just a friendly reminder. Those smartphones are meant for you to use. Not for those smartphones to use you.

Before I end, I want to leave you a question. Ask yourselves. A reality check. Do you think you are showing signs of smartphone addiction? Hey, answer honestly, no cheating. And heck, no googling.


  • Feng, Y., Ma, Y., & Zhong, Q. (2019). The Relationship Between Adolescents' Stress and Internet Addiction: A Mediated-Moderation Model. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2248.
  • Taha, M. H., Shehzad, K., Alamro, A. S., & Wadi, M. (2019). Internet Use and Addiction Among Medical Students at Qassim University, Saudi Arabia. Sultan Qaboos University medical journal, 19(2), e142–e147.
  • Alavi, S. S., Ferdosi, M., Jannatifard, F., Eslami, M., Alaghemandan, H., & Setare, M. (2012). Behavioral Addiction versus Substance Addiction: Correspondence of Psychiatric and Psychological Views. International journal of preventive medicine, 3(4), 290–294.
  • Shoukat S. (2019). Cell phone addiction and psychological and physiological health in adolescents. EXCLI Journal, 18, 47–50.
  • Panova, T., & Carbonell, X. (2018). Is smartphone addiction really an addiction?. Journal of behavioral addictions, 7(2), 252–259.
  • Sanchez-Carbonell, X., Beranuy, M., Castellana, M., Chamarro, A., & Oberst, U. (2008). Internet and cell phone addiction: passing fad or disorder? Adicciones, 20(2), 149–159.
  • Kwon, M., et al. (2013). Development and validation of a smartphone addiction scale (SAS). PloS one, 8(2), e56936.
  • Parasuraman, S., Sam, A. T., Yee, S., Chuon, B., & Ren, L. Y. (2017). Smartphone usage and increased risk of mobile phone addiction: A concurrent study. International journal of pharmaceutical investigation, 7(3), 125–131.
  • Salience meaning from Cambridge Dictionary
  • Number of Smartphone Users Worldwide from Statistica

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Drew Agravante


Drew Agravante (author) from Philippines on September 09, 2020:

That's a good idea. Actually, we do digital detox twice a year. It really shows good and positive results. Thanks for reading.

Danny from India on September 09, 2020:

Drew, you have covered an urgent topic. Obsession with smartphones has disconnected us from the humane values. At times I feel we should carry on a digital detox at least once a week and be with family, nature and carry out your outdoor passions.

Drew Agravante (author) from Philippines on September 08, 2020:

That's something really concerning to hear. That's why it is important to make everyone realize the seriousness of the smartphone addiction issue. As for your last sentence, all I can give you is a big thumbs up. That's simply awesome. Thanks for reading!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 08, 2020:

Drew here there are as many serious car wrecks due to phone use of any sort as drunk driving. They don't need to do it, they are just addicted. Really sad. I like your list but you did not have one for me. I just plain don't use mine much at all.