Author: P. Christopher Guedri, Richmond, VA Personal Injury Attorney
Smartphones are a critical part of modern daily life. In 2013, 56% of Americans owned a smartphone. Today, that number has risen to 64% of Americans. More than a communications tool, smartphones have become so integrated into our lives that a recent study revealed that three-quarters of respondents never left their smartphone more than five feet away from them. The fear of being without your smartphone, scientifically known as “nomophobia,” afflicts 40% of the population. This data points to one conclusion – smartphone addiction is genuine and pervasive.
Social Indicators of Smartphone Addiction
While a text message may not disrupt a conversation among friends, and an email notification may not prevent the closure of a business deal, the fact that these tri-tone interruptions could disrupt the nature of interpersonal relationships is one of the threats of smartphones. Some mobile users check their device an average of 150 times every single day. The tendency to check the phone can create tendencies toward moodiness, materialism, and temperamental behavior. The negative impact of the digital addiction on a user’s social life is obvious, and has the potential of being discourteous to others.
Emotional and Psychological Indicators of Smartphone Addiction
Sustained smartphone use, even use that doesn’t rise to the level of addiction, can also be detrimental to mental health. When not “plugged in,” smartphone users can suffer from anxiety and withdrawal. Such symptoms are so widespread that a recent poll reported that 61% of men and 70% of women felt concerns of separation when removed from their device. Smartphones can result in a loss of productivity, a direct side effect of the sleeplessness caused by late night and prolonged smartphone use. These devices reduce an individual’s ability to multitask, which is a skill apparently required to use smartphones.
Physical Indicators and Dangers of Smartphone Addiction
On the lower end of the “physical” scale are the headaches, eyestrain, hand cramps, and spinal pulls associated with too much screen time. More seriously, being distracted by a smartphone can result in injuries and death. Texting while driving is six times more dangerous than drunk driving, and has occurred with increasing frequency – more than 50% of the smartphone population engage in this dangerous activity. Texting while walking can also result in personal injuries, as pedestrians ignore traffic signs and crosswalk boundaries.
How to Take a Break from Your Smartphone
Smartphone addiction has the potential to inflict great harm on those afflicted. Despite this, there are steps any “addict” can take to minimize such consequences.
- Create “no phone times” and “no phone zones”
- Turn your phone off when you drive
- Avoid staying up late to attend to your phone
- Encourage family and friends to adopt these habits with you
Start small with a smartphone prohibition at dinnertime or during bathroom breaks, but consider increasing your independence as willpower allows. The social, psychological, and physical effects of smartphone addiction can have a lasting impact on your health and well-being.
About The Author: Chris Guedri was named "Lawyer of the Year 2015" by Best Lawyers in America for Personal Injury-Plaintiffs in Richmond, VA. He has more than 30 years of experience and is a trial attorney and partner with the law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen.
 Dale Archer, “Smartphone Addiction,” published in Psychology Today. Available at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201307/smartphone-addiction.
 Pew Research Center, “U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015.” Available at http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/.
 Study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Jumio, results available at http://www.zdnet.com/article/phone-sex-using-our-smartphones-from-the-shower-to-the-sack/.
 Carolyn Gregoire, “Your iPhone is Making You Depressed,” published in the Huffington Post. Available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/19/phone-addiction-depression_n_6712882.html.
 A more detailed look at the effect of Smartphones on “Civil Society” can be found in an article by Amy Larkin, “Togetherness Interruptus: Civil Society in the Age of the Smartphone,” published in the Huffington Post. Available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-larkin/togetherness-interruptus-_b_6302506.html.
 Poll conducted by SecurEnvoy, results noted in Archer, “Smartphone Addiction,” but more information is available at http://www.cultofmac.com/148086/nomaphobia-is-the-fear-of-losing-your-iphone-but-is-it-real-interview/.
 Lindsay Holmes, “Sneaky Ways Technology is Messing With Your Body and Mind,” published in the Huffington Post. Available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/05/health-effects-of-technol_n_6263120.html.