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What Screen Addiction Looks Like: When Does Use Become Abuse?

We’ve all been there. One minute you are turning on your computer with the intention of a solid hour of work, and BAM! It’s several hours later and you’re on a pointless Buzzfeed Quiz (See: What Pokémon/Disney princess/superhero etc. are you?) with little to no progress on your work.

The phenomenon of getting distracted easily is one of the many signs that you may be suffering from screen addiction. Screen addiction does not discriminate – it affects adults as much as it affects children. Fortunately, no matter your age, there are several key signs you can look out for. Recognising these signs can help you take the necessary steps to curb your addiction and develop a healthy, well-balanced relationship with technology.

1. “Where has the time gone?”

If you notice that you are losing large chunks of time being on your phone or computer, you may be a victim of addiction. A crucial activity you could be compromising on because of your addiction is sleep. Alarmingly, your nightly routine of checking your phone updates right before bedtime could have a twofold effect on your sleep cycle. Not only does your phone distract you long enough such that you don’t physically shut your eyes at the intended time, research shows that phone use before bed may make it harder for you to fall asleep and may even cause insomnia! Getting too little sleep can make you easily irritable and distracted at work or school, leading to a dip in your productivity levels.

2. Nomophobia

Have you ever forgotten to bring your phone to a social event? Maybe you have been in a situation where your phone’s battery level is low and there is no charger in sight. If the thought of being separated from your phone gives you the shivers, you may be suffering from nomophobia.

For many of us, nomophobia is all too true. While our phones seem to have the magical ability to save us from awkward social interaction or make time fly during a boring event, an over-reliance on it may indicate that you are addicted to your device. The next time you feel anxious when you are separated from your phone, remind yourself that this fear is irrational and simply unnecessary!

3. Technoference

Your excessive phone usage could be a source of conflict between you and your partner. 

A recent study by Brigham Young University on the disruption caused by texts, emails or games, coined ‘technoference,’ revealed the association between higher levels of technoference and relationship conflicts. Interestingly, the study was one of the first to investigate the larger psychological effects of technoference on romantic relationships. Some of these effects include feeling ignored, neglected and even depressed in the relationship!Here’s why: If you are addicted to your device and constantly feel the need to check your phone, especially during a conversation, meal or romantic moment, you are signalling to your partner that your device is more important than him/her. This causes your partner to feel ‘rejected.’ If this happens often enough, the constant feeling of rejection builds up and may put a strain on your relationship beyond repair.

Hence, if you notice your partner making comments about the number of times you are glancing at your screen, it may be time to pay attention to him/her and disconnect to connect!

So, are you suffering from screen addiction? 

If you can identify with the above screen addiction ‘signs,’ be proactive in taking the first step to change! Taking the first step can be as small as choosing to leave your phone behind when you are out with your loved ones. 

Remember, technology was developed to enhance the quality of our lives. Developing a well-balanced relationship with it is key to ensuring that it serves its purpose.

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