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Ask The Therapist: Help! I’m addicted to my phone

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I live alone, which means I usually have ample time on my hands. But lately, I have begun to notice that I always like to keep my mind occupied by reaching out for my smartphone. As a result, I spend an average of seven hours every day on it. Is it the beginning of an addiction? – Ketaki  

I really appreciate your asking this question, because you are not alone. A good number of people are probably asking themselves the same question. Using your smartphone for seven hours a day and having a mind that constantly needs to be occupied could be symptomatic of a dependency.  

Symptoms of addiction include being obsessed by something, having a compulsion to engage with it, and doing it despite knowing the negative consequences (for example, loss of time, friends or sleep). Ask yourself if any of these symptoms apply to your smartphone usage.  

I suggest you do a fair assessment of how you spend your time on your phone. If you are using it to read, research and send emails, then this is time you are investing in learning and work. However, if most of your time goes into mindless browsing or social media, then it is time to think about those seven hours you are losing every day. This is time that can be better spent to bring you more contentment and happiness.

Maybe it is time for a digital detox? Discipline yourself to use your smartphone for reasonable purposes only and put a time limit on it. Calm your mind by living more mindfully. Get in touch with your creative side and discover things you could do instead of being on your smartphone. Make an effort to have conversations with friends and family. The possibilities of how you can spend seven hours are almost endless.

You are not alone in your excessive use of your smartphone. I would like to recommend a documentary that highlights this very problem and deeper reasons for this new addiction. If you have the opportunity, please watch The Social Dilemma. I am confident you will be able to make changes in your smartphone usage that will set you free.

(Dr Annette is integrated psychotherapist at CHMC, Dubai. Got a query? Email us on [email protected])