Are You Addicted to your Smartphone?

It has become fact – people are addicted to their smartphones and for a number of reasons, but mainly because your smartphone is an extension of you.  Your smartphone allows you to reach out to others, to meticulously craft your you-brand, and to constantly search for knowledge at the tap of a button.

Slave to the phone

Is it any wonder that these devices have become bastions of addiction? Now I know what you’re thinking: why on earth has he chosen to discuss addiction on a gambling blog? Why indeed? Why opt to talk about something that most players would rather not want to talk about or even acknowledge, except to themselves? Well, quite simply because it needs addressing, especially in an industry like online casino gaming which is modelled around fun and entertainment, but which also carries a genuine possibility of becoming problematic. But let me assure you that I’m not here to deliver the doom and gloom report. No, instead I’m here to talk about why smartphones can be addictive and to hopefully offer up positive solutions.

The 3 Reasons

From what I’ve been able to gather, there are three main reasons as to why we as a species have become so enmeshed with our smartphones, and it all comes down to something quite simple that these devices do, which is they tap into our basic yearnings as human beings. And if you think about that last bit, then it all makes sense. So let us now delve further and explore why we struggle to leave our smartphones alone…

Part of an extended self: Psychologists and people in the field of human study will tell you that your development starts in the womb and speeds up exponentially after birth – nothing too profound there. As a new-born, you attach yourself to your primary caregiver and thereafter to things, whereby nurturing what is known an extended self. For instance, if a baby’s dummy or favourite toy is taken away, he or she will cry.  The American psychologist, William James, theorised that the sum of a man is not just his body and psychic powers, but his clothes, house, wife, children etc. and that the loss of any of those could be great. Phones, it has been argued play a similar role. How often have you not experienced a sense of anxiety for not knowing where your phone is or if you suddenly dropped it? This ties directly into how often we look at our phones.  It’s been found, and I can attest to this, that 51% of people born in the 1980s and 1990s will experience a sense of anxiety after 15 min of no phone contact. This is attributable to the fact that they came into being during a time when hand-held devices were becoming prominent.

An extension of the self

 Recalling caring relationships: Apparently, when we hold our phones, it makes us reflect on moments of intimacy from both adulthood and our childhood. The brain releases dopamine and oxytocin, the love hormone. These chemicals help to create a sense of attachment and belonging. Based on all of this, it’s been said that holding one’s phone has the same effect as when lovers stare into each other’s eyes or a parent looks lovingly at his or her child.

The need to create and procreate:  It is in our nature to copy and imitate as we explore ourselves and strive to improve upon ourselves. Today’s smartphones have helped us to nurture these attributes; we take pictures, manipulate those pictures, take selfies and take part in discussion threads. We text each other and this back and forth fosters communication. By constantly conducting our Google searches, we seek out knowledge for self-betterment and to relay such knowledge. Thus our actions mimic those of our ancestors who sat around fires, painted cave walls and passed things on orally.

Interesting Usage Stats

  • 70% of smartphone users check their devices within one hour of having woken up
  • 56% of smartphone users check their devices before bedtime
  • 48 of users check their devices over the weekend
  • 51% of users check their devices constantly during vacations
  • 44% of smartph one users have admitted to feelings of anxiousness and irritability after not using their devices for a week

Positive Addictions

Positive addictions

This terms was put forth by the author William Glasser in his book of the same name. According to Glasser, positive addictions strengthen us and make our lives more satisfying. These addictions also provide us with tools to live with more confidence, to be more creative, to garner more happiness and to enjoy better health.  The author offers six criteria that have to be met in order for one to have a positive addiction or activity. These are:

  • It needs to be a non-competitive activity and one that gets at least one hour of your time per day.
  • It should be something that you can do with ease and something that doesn’t tax you mentally in order to accomplish.
  • It can be done alone and if needed, with others, but is not dependent upon others.
  • You perceive its value to be spiritual, mental or physical.
  • The activity, should you persist with it, must yield positive results. These results must however be subjective; only you can measure the outcome.
  • The activity shouldn’t cause you to criticise yourself.

A positive addiction doesn’t take over your life; instead, it fits into a predisposed timeframe. The benefits that your activity yields can spill over into the rest of your life, but the activity itself remains limited.