By Kelly wallace
(CNN) – They say the first step in overcoming a problem is realizing that you have one.
If they ask me if I am addicted to my smartphone or if I use it too much, I would say no. I pride myself on not keeping my devices (I have two!) In my bedroom while I sleep, and I keep them out of touch in the kitchen cupboard when I’m home with my kids. But, every time I walk into the kitchen, I check my email and Twitter account.
There seems to be a gravitational pull pulling me towards my BlackBerry and my iPhone even though I know that the probability that there is something I need to see at that moment is zero. I feel the same attraction the minute I wake up and check my devices, one of the first things I do when I get out of bed.
Those behaviors themselves probably put me in the “you have a problem” group, but I’m sorry to say there’s even more evidence now.
I recently took the “Smartphone Abuse Test,” an online questionnaire administered by the Internet and Technology Addiction Center of America, one of the few organizations that focuses on the problem.
‘I have a problem’
In the questionnaire there are questions such as: “Do you find yourself spending more time on your smartphone than you realize?” and “Are you reluctant to be without your smartphone, even for a short time?”
If you answer “yes” to more than five of the 15 questions, “you could benefit from examining how much time you spend with your smartphone,” according to the questionnaire.
I answered “yes” to 11 questions.
I have a problem and I am not alone.
Doctor David Greenfield, the director of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, says that roughly 90% of Americans would fall into the category of overuse, abuse or misuse of their devices, according to a recent nationwide telephone survey. which he did with 1,000 people along with AT&T.
“The analogy I use is that just before going to bed, the last thing they do before falling asleep is checking their phone and the minute they open their eyes, they check their phone,” Greenfield said during an interview. Doesn’t that sound like a smoker? This is what we used to hear from smokers, that the last thing they did before falling asleep was to smoke one last cigarette. “
61% of those surveyed said that they regularly sleep with their phone or smartphone on under their pillow or on the side of their bed and more than 50% feel uncomfortable when they leave their smartphone at home or in the car, or when they do not have service or your phone is broken.
Signs that you are truly addicted
Greenfield, who is also the author of Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyber Fraks and Those Who Love Them, says that fewer people would actually be classified as addicted to their devices. That figure is roughly between 10% and 12%, according to their most recent research.
“What puts someone in that category is that they use them to a point where they experience some degree of withdrawal. They develop intolerance, which means they use it more and more, ”said Greenfield, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in the United States.
“They use it like a drug, so when they are bored, they pick up the phone. They are tired, they pick up the phone. They are lazy, they pick up the phone. They are angry, they pick up the phone. They are alone, they pick up the phone ”.
To enter the group of addicts, Greenfield also says that the use of your smartphone has to have “some harmful impact on a large part of life, be it an impact on your work, your academic performance, your life at home, your main relationship, paternity, legal status ”.
Let’s say you get pulled over and get a ticket for texting and driving. There has to be some negative impact generally for us to say you have a problem, ”Greenfield said.
The Greenfield research found that while 98% of respondents said texting while driving is dangerous, nearly 75% admitted to doing so.
“Just like drinking and driving, people have a very poor reception of shock, so, in other words, people will do it normal,” he said. “They will drive and balance their cell phone and drink their coffee, and they will tell you, honestly, that they are not shocked … but actually we know from a lot of data and research that that is not totally true.”
So how can you tell if you might be addicted to your smartphone or if you fall into the larger category that using your smartphone is getting out of hand? I asked on social media and got a tremendous response from people who were on their smartphones at the time! Here are 10 of my favorite answers:
10 signs you may have a problem
one. When you check your phone to see the current temperature instead of opening a window, and / or when you check your phone to see the current time instead of looking at the watch on your wrist. (I just did this!).
two. When you consciously tell your spouse “let’s put the phones away” while you watch TV because it’s more common for them to be next door than far away.
3. If you answer emails in a poorly lit area while waiting for your massage therapist to relieve your stress, you could have a problem. (Okay, I’ve done this too!).
Four. When your children have to text you their food orders because you lost the ability to retain information that is not received through your phone.
5. When you expect to run into a lot of red lights on the way home so you can comment on a Facebook post.
6. When one of your daughter’s first drawings shows you with a BlackBerry in your hand.
7. When you wake up, you pick up your phone and check it before you get up to go to the bathroom.
8. When you drop the phone on your face because you were falling asleep.
9. When you choose your clothes based on the best pockets to put your phone.
10. When you see pictures that you took with the phone while the moment of truth happens right in front of you. (I did that too!)