On average, Americans spend on average 4.7 hours a day on their mobile devices,
texting, posting to social media and using apps or the Internet. While smartphone
and internet use are pervasive throughout our society, it can become a problem
if it causes a person to neglect face-to-face relationships, family responsibilities,
work, school or other important things in life.
Smartphone obsessions, also known as “nomophobia” (fear of being
without a mobile phone), is often fueled by an Internet overuse problem. Smartphones,
tablets, or the Internet can be habit forming their use can release mood-altering
chemicals in the brain. It can become compulsive, continually searching for
more information, distraction and/or stimulus.
Internet compulsions can include spending more time than wanted on:
- Stock trading
- Online shopping or bidding on auction sites
- Web surfing
- Watching videos
- Searching Google
- Checking news feeds
- Online dating
Signs & Symptoms
You or a loved one may have an internet or smartphone obsession if you:
- Neglect household chores or tasks at work because you spend so
much time online or on your smartphone posting, texting, tweeting, etc.
- Are becoming isolated from family and friends because of all the
time you spend on your phone or other device.
- Conceal your smartphone use or lie to your boss and family about
the amount of time you spend online.
- Get irritated or cranky if your online time is interrupted.
Feel intense anxiety or panic if you leave your smartphone at home, the battery
runs down or your computer’s operating system crashes.
Tips & Recommendations
Human beings are not hardwired to rely solely on technology for social interaction.
Face-to-face contact with another person makes us feel calm, safe and understood.
Onscreen interactions cannot replace making eye contact, responding to body
language, listening and sharing a laugh, and does not have the same effect
on your emotional wellbeing. If you think you are having a problem with your
internet or smartphone use, help is available by:
- Strengthening your support network. Set aside time each week to
spend with friends and family in-person.
- Building your coping skills by finding other ways to express your
feelings besides tweeting, texting or blogging.
- Recognizing any underlying problems that may support your compulsive
behavior, such as previous addiction to drugs or alcohol, depression or anxiety.
- Understanding and appreciating the value of in-person interactions
versus those online.
Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTS) can help you develop new social or coping
skills and manage your use of technology.