An Addiction Or Tool? Would Cigarettes Be Safer?

I didn’t think of the cigarette part until I started writing the title, but it’s an honest question worth exploring.

Is there one addiction more dangerous than another? Of course. Honestly, cigarettes would kill me sooner than cancer from my phone.

The point that I want to make this morning is that I think I might be addicted to my cell phone. And if I am, then admitting it to the world is a good way to overcome it.

Hello, my name is Anthony. I’m an iPhonaholic. I think.

Official Terms and Stats

OK, so let’s look at what the professionals have to say. When I did a quick google search of “what do you call someone addicted to looking at their phone?”, I discovered that much of the research and writing that popped up was several years old. Even the most recent professional articles referenced research that was done as far back as 2008.

The official term, nomophobia, was derived from combining “no mo-bile” with phobia (irrational fear). Simply defined, nomophobia is “an extreme fear of not having your phone or not being able to use it.”

Since this is not an official research paper, and I don’t really want to get into the work of sourcing everything I read, just google what I did and you can find it all. But when it comes to the numbers, they are pretty disturbing.

  • In the original 2008 UK study that coined the term nomophobia, 57% of men and 47% of women suffered mobile phone anxiety.
  • In another study of college students (2013), 64% were at risk of developing nomophobia, while 77% checked their phones at least 35 times per day.
  • A 2010 study showed that 61% of adults check their phones first thing in the morning.
  • In 2014 it was observed that with college students there was a correlation between low GPA’s and frequent cell phone usage.

If you are reading this and wondering, “Do I have nomophobia?”, then social psychologists at Iowa State University have put together a 20-item questionnaire meant to help you self-diagnose. Now, this, too, was from several years ago, so I don’t know if anything has changed. But if you’re like me, we’ve got problems.

Not So Fast

But on the other hand, back in 2015 Brian Fung, a reporter with the Washington Post, questioned the legitimacy of equating nomophobia with ” real, clinical addictions.” Fung argues that true addictions and disabling phobias generally affect only 10 to 12 percent of the population, so, cellphone “addiction” might not be as bad as described.

And let’s think about this… Before there were cell phones, how did we stay in contact? We had pay phones, didn’t we? And before we had Waze or Google Maps, how did we find our directions to destinations? We either used maps or wrote down directions. Yet, where are the pay phones these days? Have you tried to buy a map, lately?

Before there were cell phones, business was conducted over land lines, desktop computers, in stores, and on paper. Nowadays, as you know, business, shopping, and even legal documents have  been adapted to mobile devices. And what’s more, a lot of our daily activities now require we have a cell phone, or the immediacy of the transaction demands it.

As one researcher rightfully noted, the increased usage of cell phones may not be the result of increasing addiction as much as it is the increased demand put on individuals by the culture and evolving economy.

But We Can Do Better

So, back to the original assertion that I have an addiction… Do I? Probably not, at least not in a clinical sense.

Am I going to give up my iPhone? No. Do I go to bed with it and wake up with it? Yes, because it has replaced my clock and my alarm and the “white noise” app helps me sleep.

But do I look at it too much? Are my daily “pick ups” excessive? Am I comforted by feeling of the phone in my left hand? Do I reach for my phone at the first sense of boredom? Do I panic if I leave home without it? Do I take it with me to the shower? Is it the first thing I look at when I open my eyes in the morning and the last thing I look at before i go to sleep?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. and Yes.


Below are MY stats from this morning and last week. Are you willing to share yours?

This Monday morning, with Sunday’s stat’s setting the average.

Last week’s average per day, along with a breakdown of what I viewed.

The average number of pickups per day – 74.

Let’s come back to this next Monday and see what changes can be made. I will not quit using my phone, but I am going to try to lower the screen time stats and change what is most commonly viewed.

Would you like to post something like this and join me? 


Filed under Christian Living, Culture Wars, fitness

13 responses to “An Addiction Or Tool? Would Cigarettes Be Safer?

  1. I’m an Android user, so I don’t have those kinds of stats.

  2. Why is using your phone a lot considered an addiction?

    • Well, some people say it is; others don’t. I’d say “using” it a lot falls under the “tool” heading. But feeling the compulsion to check it constantly may hint at something else.

      • But what is bad about that?

        I mean, compulsion to hit the crack pipe, yep: bad. Kills you.

        Checking your phone?

      • I bet you could quit anytime you want, right? 😉

        Seriously, the smartphone has a lot of benefits, but the downside is the immediate emotional fix it can bring through social media. For example, I am at my computer in my office answering your comment. I could wait till the end of the day, or I could respond at different times, but what I don’t need to be doing is looking down at my phone every five minutes to check my stats, make comments, look at my likes on Facebook, etc. It’s like the need for immediate communication is a drug – like having to have a cigarette when times are stressful. It seems to me that there might be a line we cross, a switch we flip, when we cannot go for 1 minute standing in line, or even sitting at a stop light, without picking up a phone and scrolling, looking for some new fix of news, comments, or whatever.

      • I think I am too old to get emotion fixes from social media. I worked in the field since it’s early days. If you looked at my LinkedIn you can see my major clients. Writing content for them for years, across all platforms, and managing their social media made SM a work thing.

        The beauty of that, and my IPhone, is that in enabled me to make a decent income and still spend quite a lot of time with my kids.

        Now my career has changed and I’m 60 miles away from my son’s school. Also, my young friend Asa sometimes needs me. So my phone is always near by.

        I have Scourby reading the KJV on my phone and I listen to that on my long daily commute.

        I do check Twitter about 20-30 times a day for news updates.

        My phone feels very vital to my life.

      • Mine is too. We live in a world where not having one would be a handicap. I just want to make sure I only use it as a tool. I don’t want it to own me.

        But thanks for your thoughts and comments.

      • Point taken.

        But it’s still not as dangerous as a crack pipe.

      • LOL. What about THC gummies?

  3. WDCX talked about addiction to cell phones. It turns out a answered text cause you to produce more dopamine giving you pleasure.
    And, Co-dependency seeks the approval of others which also increases your desire to see what someone else is saying about you or too you.
    Sex in the city had an episode one time years back I happened to watch that suggested that a boy friend was like a bag of cookies, their was this need for attention, an addiction.
    Men are also wired to prove themselves. the thump their chests, and to accomplish things and want approval.
    Realizing you do not need your kids, you do not need your spouse, that you are just fine is the sort of thing that can free you. having the need for them can cause you anger when they do not come to you and can cause you to run to them. Some think this is actually Love but its not.
    Some boys and girls think if someone likes them then they are in love. its bogus. Love is simply a act of doing good to people with purpose, and should not have to be done for approval..
    Bernard of Clarivox had a talk on the 4 loves.. The point being, the issues of Addiction are tied to self esteem and perception of self.

    I know simply because my X couldn’t be done with a divorce, she wanted to rob me of my kids, and did not spare the intentional damage regardless of how it hurt others including me and the kids. So I had any sort of Hope pounded out of me. I ended up with a lack of response stimulus. I was like the monkey shocked over and over in a cage where I learned helplessness. It was a learning experience. It turns out, while we naturally want to see our kids, and they naturally do not, we don’t actually need the love of our kids or others to be whole.

    Its easy to confuse a need to help others by answering the phone and being responsible with actual co-dependency wanting to know if someone is on their cause you cant attention. Its an addiction. DE-clinging yourself is a worthy activity so you can focus on loving God for Gods sake rather than for your own sake.

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