Most of us would admit to being somewhat tied to our cell phones, but when does that reliance turn into a full-on addiction? For many it’s hard to say because they’re so ingrained in our everyday lives, and they don’t feel as dangerous as say drinking or doing hard drugs. However, no-mobile-phone-phobia, or “nomophobia,” is a real thing, and rehab centers are admitting more and more patients who suffer from it.
One such facility is the Morningside Recovery Center in Orange County, which now hosts around 10 patients suffering from nomophobia out of 70 who are suffering from other addictions.
More: QUIZ: How long could you survive without your cell phone?
The most common demographic to be affected by nomophobia is college-aged females, according to a study in the Journal for Behavioral Addictions. Your average female college student spends 600 minutes (that’s 10 hours) per day using her phone in some way. That’s one fifth more than their male counterparts. The addiction is most often rooted in social anxiety and depression, and the scariest part about it is few ever realize they have a problem because the whole world suffers from some level of dependency.
According to Dr. David Greenfield, the director of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, 90 percent of Americans abuse their mobile devices. There are plenty of ways to deal with it yourself, but first you must realize that you have a problem by recognizing these telltale signs.
1. If you leave your phone at home, you have a meltdown
You know that feeling when you’re late for work and you run out the door without it, only to realize after you’re too far from home? If your first thought is, “How in God’s name will I get through this day now?” you might have a problem.
2. It’s the last thing you look at when you fall asleep and the first thing when you wake up
That place is usually reserved for the thing you love most like a spouse or a pet, not a tech device. Remember, you can teach Siri to say “I love you,” but does she really mean it?
3. You are often told to turn your phone off when out to dinner
Whether it’s by your parents, your friends or your significant other, your loved ones are being negatively affected by your addiction, and they’re letting you know it. Phone use at the dinner table is as rude as chewing with your mouth open — keep that idea in mind the next time you go to do it.
4. You immediately check your phone when you feel it vibrate or hear it beep
If it’s impossible for you to wait until later, even if you’re at something important like a graduation, you’re a slave to your device.
5. When you’re waiting for someone or something, you use it to look busy
I’m a huge culprit of this one, because I hate looking idle, but have you ever looked at people when they’re standing around just glued to their tiny screens? It looks pretty silly, doesn’t it?
6. You compulsively check your emails when stopped at red lights
Even if you’re not driving, you’re still operating a large vehicle recklessly. Don’t be that guy.
7. If you drop your phone, you equate it to dropping your baby
Repeat after me: My phone is an inanimate object with no actual thoughts or feelings. It can be replaced. Your baby cannot.
8. You’ve missed big life moments because you were looking at your phone
Your kid’s first steps should be captured by your eyes first, and your phone second.
9. You check the weather on your phone rather than opening a window or stepping outside
As long as we live in a world where exposure to the outside is safe, we should take advantage of it. It may not be that way forever.