June 24


How to Get Control over Your Cell Phone Addiction

By Harry Heijligers

June 24, 2019

Do you have trouble putting down your phone? You might have a cell phone addiction. Even when you’re not expecting important messages you are checking your cell phone constantly? It’s an addiction for which you have to blame your brain, a recent study on behavioral addictions says.


Cell phone addiction facts

Your smartphone gives you unlimited access to people and information. "So, that's good!" you might think. Well, sometimes. But there is a flip side to it:

Cell phone addiction might be as problematic as other addictions like video game addiction, shopping addiction, internet addiction. Because it is distracting you from leading your life in a fulfilled and happy way.

Smartphone addiction might lead to severe distress in your life. According to a study done at Baylor University, cell phone addiction is linked to impulsiveness and materialism. This might also cause lower self-esteem, a decline in work performance, and an increase in interpersonal conflicts.

At least 60% of U.S. students think they have a cell phone addiction. That's a lot! I wonder what this means for the rest of the cell phone users? There might not be research yet about this demographic, but I suspect that for the average adult with a cell phone there is also a very large amount of them with a cell phone addiction.

How to Get Control over your cell phone addiction

Cell phone addiction has been compared to the Internet, gambling, and shopping addiction. Because it is a compulsive behavior that works similarly to substance addiction in the brain.

It's one of the bad habits a lot of people suffer from these days. A large percent of people are on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook all the time having a hard time putting their smartphone away. Checking their emails every ten minutes or so. No wonder they have their phone in their pocket wherever they go. And it's no longer for taking phone calls anymore.

Smartphones or similar devices like tablets are like a drug to almost every person on earth.

And it's affecting children too. Playing games on their cell phone all day long makes children also addicted.

Checking your phone can't be one of the big pursuits in life. Yet, thousands of people obsess about it. If you would at your screen time statistics you would probably be scared about how you have wasted your time and your life.

While cell phone addiction is a fairly new concept there are a few treatment suggestions for those suffering from smartphone addiction:

  • Set rules for yourself: when do you use your smartphone and when not.
  • Set periods of time when the use of your cell phone is forbidden.
  • Define activities for which smartphone use is forbidden, for example, while driving, while having dinner).
  • Schedule break times to use your cell phone for social media.

Download an app on your smartphone to help you put your phone down. Because apps like ColdTurkey or SelfControl allow you to stay more in control over your smartphone addiction.

You could also use mindfulness or other mental relaxation techniques to help you cope with your smartphone addiction.

Cell phone addiction

Is your brain an information junkie?

A very recent study by UC Berkely's professor Ming Hsu concludes that information acts on your brain in the same way as money and food do on your brain. It’s the part in your brain that produces dopamine that makes you crave new input all the time.

Just as your brain likes empty calories from junk food, it also overvalues information that makes us feel good but may not be useful. It’s just idle curiosity. This is why smartphone addiction is hard to break.

Your brain converts information into the same common scale as it does for money.
Curiosity acts as an innate motivation that spurs actions by itself. A sports fan might check the odds on a game even if it has no further value for him or her. Sometimes we want to know something, just to know.

Most people tend to overvalue information. The brain converts curiosity about information into the same common code it uses for concrete rewards like money.

While the research does not directly address overconsumption of digital information, the fact that information engages the brain’s reward system is a necessary condition for the addiction cycle, according to Hsu.

The way our brains respond to the anticipation of a pleasurable reward is an important reason why people are susceptible to clickbait,” he says.

Learn to control your distractions

Cell phone addiction is one of the many ways your brain uses to distract you from what's really important to you. Your brain wants you to stay safe and sound and to stay in your comfort zone. But that's not what you want. You want to explore your life and the world. You want to discover things.

One of the first things you can do today is to turn off all push notifications on your cell phones. Actually, it would be a good idea to not only do this on your smartphones but all your devices. I urge you to do that right now. Just head over to your phone settings. It will help you diminish cell phone usage so you can end a bad cell phone habit of constantly checking messages. One of those bad phone habits is to look at your cell phone screen in your sleeping room. If you can end these bizarre phone habits, it will benefit you a lot.

Another idea is to become more aware of your phone use habits. Furthermore, develop good relationships with people around you who can help you step by step to become more aware of your relationship with your mobile device.

Here is a challenge for you. Set aside one particular day per week in the next coming month where you will ignore your phone all day long.

While there is no perfect phone substitute, reading a good book would work as a distraction to help you change your habits. It is also very good for your brain, by the way. And, of course, reading a book gives you something interesting to talk about with your friends.

If you want more focus in life on the things that are important to you, check out my free guide to get more clarity and focus! It's my gift to you! Have Fun!

Talk soon!


Harry Heijligers

Harry Heijligers

About the author

Harry Heijligers has more than 25 years of experience as a Project Manager and more than 17 years of experience as an NLP Trainer. He has a Dutch blog about NLP here: HarryHeijligers.com.
If you'd like to know about the Smart Leadership Hut, please check this: Smart Leadership Hut.

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