Behaviors That Indicate A Possible Smartphone Addiction


Smartphone addiction, though not an official psychiatric disorder, is increasingly recognized as a behavioral problem that can diminish an individual’s quality of life.

Patterns of smartphone abuse are frequently seen in young people with low self-esteem, and an excessive drive for social networking. Their attachment to smartphone use can disrupt daily functioning at home, work, or school, and cause physical issues such as back, shoulder, and neck pain, or eye problems.

Addiction to smartphone use is also associated with sleep, and anxiety disorders, and an increased intake of tobacco and alcohol. In extreme cases, auditory and tactile delusions can develop, such as hearing an incoming call when there is none.

Although there are no official diagnostic criteria for smartphone abuse, six behaviors indicating the likelihood of an addiction have been determined through research:

  1. A persistent inability to resist an urge to use the smartphone.
  2. Symptoms that include a general dissatisfaction with life, and irritability, or anxiety after a period of withdrawal from smartphone use.
  3. Using the smartphone for time periods longer than intended.
  4. A continuous desire or unsuccessful attempts to stop, or reduce smartphone use.
  5. Heightened attention given to using or stopping smartphone use.
  6. Continued smartphone use despite recurring and distressing physical or mental health consequences.

Additionally, four functional addiction criteria are:

  1. Excessive smartphone use that leads to continuous, or recurring physical or mental health problems.
  2. Using smartphones in physically dangerous situations (such as when driving, or crossing a street), or in situations that have other negative affects on daily life.
  3. Smartphone use that damages social relationships, and/or school and work performance.
  4. Smartphone use that is extremely time-consuming, or causes substantial distress.

Individuals may have a smartphone addiction if they demonstrate three or more of the behavioral criteria, plus two or more functional criteria, and if the addictive behavior is not associated with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), or bipolar disorder.

Anyone who feels troubled by a constant need to use a smartphone should consult with a doctor, school counselor, or mental health professional for a proper diagnosis, and to receive help.

Source: Psychiatry Advisor
Photo credit: Donna Cleveland


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