“I find myself checking my phone throughout the day, but I don’t feel like I need it”, “I enjoy using social media, but I wouldn’t say I go on it too often”.
Do either of these statements sound like you?
Many of us may not readily admit to spending excessive time on our mobile devices. The reality is that most of us may not even realise the extent of our phone usage and dependence. You might be harbouring a scrolling addiction without even knowing it.
Curious to find out if this is you? Discover what keeps you hooked to the screen, signs indicating you can’t get enough of those late-night scrolls, and ways to help you break the habit and enjoy a digital detox.
Why Are Mobile Phones So Addictive?
Whether or not you want to admit it, chances are you’ve checked your phone a few times in the past half-hour. But have you ever paused to wonder why this keeps happening?
The reasons why mobile phones are so addictive go beyond mere accessibility and technological prowess. These devices have become masters of luring you in.
The vast expanse of entertainment apps that have become available over the years is what can ensure users are inundated with dopamine every time they engage with them. Dopamine, known for inducing feelings of happiness and satisfaction, can be highly addictive. Thus, we find ourselves repeatedly drawn back to our phones in pursuit of more.
Over time, this motion of returning to pick up our phones becomes a habit. The thing with humans is that we are creatures of habit – this is what keeps smokers reaching back to get another cigarette without even realising they’re doing it. Habits and patterns become etched into our brains, and we unconsciously crave their repetition throughout the day.
Social media serves as another significant factor in our mobile phone and scrolling addictions.
These platforms have evolved to facilitate various forms of remote communication – calling, texting, FaceTiming, voice noting, commenting, liking, and following, you name it. Apps continually introduce new ways for us to connect via our mobile devices. As a result, we’ve come to rely on these devices to nurture and maintain our relationships, experiencing feelings of anxiety and isolation when separated from them.
Just like that, we’re reaching back for another hit and, before we know it, twenty minutes have slipped by in a scrolling haze.
How Many Hours On Phone Is Considered Addiction?
This is likely the foremost consideration on your mind as many of us may associate hours spent on mobile phones with varying degrees of addiction.
It’s important to note that the amount of time spent on your phone isn’t the sole indicator. After all, some may use their phones extensively for work without feeling compelled to use them otherwise, while others may spend less time on their phones but experience a strong craving for them when apart.
Nevertheless, tracking hours of phone usage is a good place to start.
According to Search Logistics, the average time spent on social media today is 2 hours and 24 minutes for individuals aged 16 to 64, with the average person devoting 144 minutes daily to social media use.
It could therefore be suggested that consistently finding yourself over this indicates above-average usage. Search Logistics continues to suggest that individuals spending more than 5 hours a day might be considered addicted, though this statistic should be approached with caution.
Time to explore some other indicators of mobile phone addiction.
Top 10 Signs You’re Addicted to Scrolling
1. The First You Reach For
Is your phone the first thing you reach for in the morning? If you’ve heard the phrase, “Start as you mean to go on”, you’ll know that starting your day on your phone can set you up poorly for the day ahead.
Try getting a physical alarm clock to curb this habit, or charging your phone in another room overnight.
2. The Last Thing You Check at Night
Similarly, if you find your go-to activity when it comes to bedtime is a lengthy mobile phone scroll, this is a tell-tale sign of dependency on your device to switch you off from the real world.
Try replacing phone usage with reading or listening to music to help you wind down in the evening instead.
3. Need to Capture Everything
Do you find yourself grabbing for your phone as soon as your food arrives or when you see a pretty sunset? The pressure to capture everything you see showcases reliance on your phone to take in your surroundings. Ironically, this can prevent you from really experiencing the moment, so make an active effort to soak it in in real time when you feel this craving.
4. Can’t Resist Notifications
Do you find yourself unable to resist grabbing your phone when you hear that ‘buzz’? Maybe you even imagine notification sounds when they’re not really there.
Most devices allow you to switch notifications to silent – try this to help you ignore those incessant ‘pings’.
5. Anxiety From Separation
Perhaps the greatest sign you struggle to be without your phone is when you feel noticeable anxiety when your phone is not within reach or when you forget it at home, emphasising the part these devices play in our mental health and wellbeing.
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6. Distracted From Tasks
If you frequently interrupt face-to-face interactions, meals, or work tasks to check your phone, this is another sign that you struggle to separate yourself from it.
7. Physical Discomfort
Ever feel you have eye strain, headaches, or hand and wrist pain that you can’t account for? This could be a signal of prolonged phone use.
8. Social Isolation
If you prefer interacting with your phone over spending time with friends and family and subsequently find that you have feelings of social withdrawal, this may be because you’re not spending enough time nurturing those real-life connections due to maintaining them online instead.
9. Lack of Sleep
Ever feel tired throughout the day even though you went to bed at a reasonable time? Most of us may not even realise how long our late-night scrolling sessions last. But, if you find yourself tired from them the next day, this is a big sign that it was far too long.
10. Inability to Limit Use
If you’ve tried to cut back on phone usage but find it challenging to resist the urge to pick up your phone, yet again, this is a sign of mobile phone addiction.
And, if this is you, considering a digital detox may be in order.
Welcome To The Digitally Detox
If you resonate with any of these signs, it may well be time to consider a digital detox.
A digital detox involves actively stepping away from your devices, including phones, laptops, iPads, and any other screens, with the goal of reducing your overall screen time, sometimes even disconnecting from it altogether.
This intentional break from technology can shift your focus to other aspects of life and promote better mental health. Engaging in a digital detox can lead to increased productivity at work, improved social interactions in person, and even give much-needed relief for your posture, giving your neck and eyes a well-earned break.
More importantly, it can significantly benefit both your mental and physical well-being.
Excessive device usage has been linked to issues such as sleep difficulties. According to a study highlighted by Mattress Clarity, individuals who consistently slept less than six hours per night were 2.5 times more likely to experience mental distress compared to those who slept longer, underscoring the importance of breaking the habit of late-night scrolling.
Throughout the day, excessive screen time may also foster feelings of disconnection and isolation, harming our self-esteem and diverting our attention from meaningful real-life connections and activities like outdoor exploration and exercise, crucial for our mental and physical well-being.
To learn more about what a digital detox entails and to discover apps that can redefine your approach to this practice, find out more here.