15 Ways To Tell If You Might Have An Addiction To Your Phone

The struggle with phone addiction is becoming increasingly common today, and it's evident that having one is detrimental to mental health. However, it doesn't seem that too many people care (or are aware) of the repercussions. When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world in 2020, more people than ever were stuck at home scrolling their devices out of boredom and loneliness. Now that life is slowly but surely returning to normal, it appears that many of those pesky phone habits remain the same.


There are so many things to do on smartphones, like researching travel destinations, making shopping lists, receiving lifestyle tips, and more, which makes it extremely difficult to put one down at any given moment. They've also made it incredibly easy for users to download whatever apps they desire and games to pass the time, like "Candy Crush" and "Angry Birds." Not to mention social media, which also plays a prominent role for people struggling with phone addiction. Chatting with friends, posting life updates, and keeping up with family has never been easier.

Whether you're spending your time liking photos on Instagram or indulging in your favorite beauty hacks on TikTok, social media is likely a factor in your life regarding how you interact with others. Almost everything is fine to dabble with as long as you understand the concept of moderation, including phone usage. These are some signs to look out for if you're wondering about having a possible phone addiction.


You freak out when your phone starts dying

How do you feel when your phone battery starts dying? If you see that the battery is quickly disappearing after glancing at the upper right corner of your phone, it shouldn't send you into a frenzy of panic and anxiety. It's normal to feel annoyed or inconvenienced by your phone dying, but it could be an unhealthy sign if you start completely freaking out. If it happens while you're out and about, you might not be able to plug it in for a charge anytime soon. Unless you're stranded in a remote location or stuck in the middle of nowhere, this isn't a reason to totally lose your cool. 


People who aren't dealing with phone addictions will typically toggle the "low power mode" option to dim their screen after making sure they've closed out all their active apps. They might even tuck their phone away to preserve battery life in case there's an important text or phone call they're waiting on before they can access a charger. The difference here is that someone with a phone addiction wouldn't be able to calmly handle such a minuscule situation without feeling tempted to go off the deep end.

You panic when someone else picks up your phone

Sometimes people panic at the idea of someone else picking up their phone, but it's usually because they have some deep secrets hidden away. For example, if you're in a committed relationship with someone, but you've secretly been texting someone else on the side, it's likely you wouldn't want your significant other to discover what you've got going on. If you're in the process of trying to research test answers during your lecture hall, you most definitely wouldn't want your professor to see what you searched for on your phone screen. 


On the contrary, it's a sign of a true phone addiction if you don't have a single secret to hide, yet you feel incredibly panicked by the idea of someone else picking up or touching your phone. What could be so wrong with someone you know holding up your phone to potentially admire your lock screen image or check out your trendy phone case? If it makes you antsy to see a friend or loved one touching your phone (when you don't have anything to hide), you might be struggling with a phone addiction.

You're missing out on sleep to continue using your phone

Getting a solid night's sleep is beyond important when it comes to your overall health and happiness. When you don't sleep enough at night, it can make you feel aggravated and moody during your daytime hours. Without enough adequate rest, your temperamental side might make an appearance. This can lead to toxic interactions with people you come into contact with. Daytime fatigue is frustrating to deal with because it makes you want to neglect all of your obligations to take a nap in the middle of the day instead. Most adults are busy during daytime hours with work, school, taking care of their kids, and more. 


This means that utilizing your nighttime hours to get good sleep is paramount. Choosing to spend time on your phone instead of getting enough necessary rest is a massive indication of phone addiction. You might feel like you're stealing back some "me time" by spending time on your phone while everyone else is asleep. There's actually a term for that: revenge bedtime procrastination.

Ultimately, you're only hurting yourself by doing this. The best way to combat this problem is to set an internal clock and make a personal agreement with yourself for when it's officially time to put your phone down and go to sleep. There is a list of before-bed beauty mistakes you're probably guilty of, and pushing off your beauty rest to scroll on your phone is one of them. 


You're neglecting work or school obligations to use your phone

One clear sign that you're struggling with a phone addiction is if you're neglecting your work or school obligations to use your phone throughout the day. You might be exceptionally bored at work or school on a daily basis, but that doesn't mean you should be picking up your phone to scroll when you're supposed to be paying attention to important information. Boredom at home is an acceptable reason to pick up your phone and start scrolling through different apps. However, boredom at work or school doesn't allow the same level of freedom. 


If you miss an important announcement at work because you're too distracted by your phone, it can lead to serious consequences. Pay cuts, demotions, public scrutiny from colleagues, and even getting fired are some of the worst outcomes. If you aren't absorbing vital gems of knowledge in the classroom, that can lead to some massive issues too. You might receive terrible results on a test, disappoint your classmates in a group project, or possibly even fail the entire class.

You prioritize phone usage over in-person interactions

Spending time on your phone can be a great way to pass the time when you're bored, but it certainly shouldn't be something you prioritize over in-person interactions with people you genuinely care about. When you spend time with your friends, family members, or your significant other, it's easy for them to feel neglected or ignored if you're staring at your phone screen more than you're making eye contact with them. 


There's a reason so many people believe it's rude to touch your phone on a first date. If you wouldn't continually check your phone while trying to make a good impression on a first date with someone, why would you pick up a habit like this with a special person already in your life? Spending more time looking at your phone screen than the people you're physically in a room with can lead to the breakdown of meaningful connections. Putting down your devices can do wonders for your relationships, so you may want to consider that while spending time with your loved ones. 

You're starting to deal with vision issues

You'll know you have a possible phone addiction on your hands if you're starting to deal with vision issues. According to the Journal of Medical Internet Research, using smartphones for long periods of time can "increase the likelihood" of conditions such as myopia, asthenopia, and ocular surface disease. Although these vision issues are more common in children and teenagers with excessive screen time, adults can also experience severe eye issues, like eye fatigue, vision strain, blurry and double vision, dry eyes, and retinal damage.


Many of these symptoms will subside once screen time is decreased. However, with extended use, some may experience "continued reduced visual abilities" that may not go away, even when a screen is not present (via the American Optometric Association).

As unfortunate as it is, staring at screens for way too long can mess with your eyes in serious ways. Some people opt for blue light-filtering lenses in their glasses or basic blue light blockers to protect their eyes, but it's unclear how helpful these items can be. Medical News Today says there hasn't been any proven evidence to support the use of blue light-blocking devices just yet. However, there is some evidence to suggest that blue light may be damaging to your skin.


You're lying about your phone usage

If you catch yourself outright lying about your phone usage to your friends and family, you certainly have a reason to be concerned. People lie in order to cover up their tracks when they know they're doing something wrong, unhealthy, or inappropriate. It's typical for people to lie about addictions such as drug use, gambling, and watching adult entertainment online. Lying about the amount of time you're spending on your phone can be just as serious, depending on how your phone usage impacts your life. 


If someone who loves you asks a general question about how many hours you spend on your phone, your first instinct should be to tell the truth with as much honesty as possible. If your truthful answer genuinely frightens or alarms your loved ones, it might be time to think about how you can fight back against your desire to spend so much time on your phone.

Loved ones have expressed concerns to you

When your loved ones start expressing their concerns to you about your phone usage, it's time to start taking them seriously. People who love you don't typically bring up random or unnecessary comments to stress, bother, or judge you. They raise their concerns when they are feeling genuinely perturbed about your well-being. If your phone usage has gotten to the point where it's making the people around you feel distressed and uneasy, you should be taking that seriously. 


This isn't a time to be dismissive toward your loved ones by brushing them off and pretending their concerns are irrelevant. Instead, it would be best if you were willing to hear them out to understand where you're coming from. People who aren't struggling with phone addictions use their phones for a standard amount of time to do regular, everyday things. If your loved ones are speaking up, it's clear that you've been using your phone in a manner that goes beyond the norm.

You're constantly experiencing FOMO and feelings of insecurity

There are plenty of apps you can use on your phone while struggling with phone addiction, and social media platforms are some of the most popular. Spending too much time on your phone can lead to constant feelings of insecurity, jealousy, and a fear of missing out (also known as FOMO.) Watching other people live their best lives on social media can make you feel like you're not doing enough with your own life. 


Comparing yourself to so-called perfect lives on the internet isn't healthy. Looking at other people's highlight reels with envy can make you start to feel self-conscious, troubled, and annoyed at your circumstances. It's possible that resentment will begin building within you from the inside as you witness the most joyous moments of others. 

You probably wouldn't be experiencing any feelings of jealousy or boredom if you weren't directly comparing your Friday night to the ones of folks you follow on social media. This applies to celebrities you keep up with and friends you know in real life.

You're prone to reopening specific apps right after closing them out

When you're finished spending time on your phone, it makes sense that you would close out of your apps and begin doing other things. If you've noticed that you're prone to quickly reopening all of your apps as soon as you've closed them out, it's very likely that you're struggling with a phone addiction. An example of this is noticing that you've spent an hour or two scrolling on TikTok or Instagram. During that time, you've probably been putting off completing a work or school assignment, scheduling a necessary appointment, or calling a distant relative on their birthday. 


You know that you have this important task to accomplish, but instead of getting to it, you quickly reopen all of your closed apps instead. This probably isn't something you're doing on purpose or consciously. The subconscious sensation of boredom you feel after closing out of your apps makes you feel empty or anxious. In your mind for that brief moment, the easiest way to solve the issue of apathy is to reopen all of your apps and keep scrolling.

You've been in an accident due to phone usage

One of the scariest signs to look out for with phone addictions is whether or not you've been in an accident due to your phone usage. Some accidents to consider include car crashes due to texting, walking into a tree or pole while looking down at your phone, wandering directly into a blocked-off construction zone, or worse. Putting yourself into dangerous situations and circumstances because you're too distracted by your phone isn't a healthy way to live. 


If whatever is happening on your phone screen is more important to you than your own safety, you should definitely be concerned about having a phone addiction. It's possible that there's been a one-off situation where something juicy was happening in your phone, causing you to be distracted for a hot second, but if this is a reoccurring issue (or even something that's happened more than once), it's time to reevaluate your phone usage.

You feel bored, restless, or anxious without your phone

When your phone isn't in hand, do you feel overly bored, restless, anxious, and on edge? If so, these are signs that you're struggling with phone addiction. Your phone shouldn't dictate whether you experience pleasant emotions or not. Feeling like the world is starting to crumble because you don't have your phone in hand is genuinely problematic. People who aren't struggling with a phone addiction can accidentally leave their phone at home while running errands without losing their cool. 


They understand that soon enough, their phone will be back in their possession, and they don't need to stress out too much about it. Someone struggling with a phone addiction won't be able to handle getting through their errands without their phone nearby. They'll thoroughly inconvenience themselves and whoever they're with by turning around to go home to retrieve their phone. You might be a little bored without it, but there's no reason you shouldn't be able to go a few hours (or even an entire day) without your phone.

The idea of doing a phone detox scares or repulses you

People have been talking about doing phone detoxes on social media for quite some time now. Ever since phone usage has become a common and popular attraction among humankind, tons of users have also grasped an understanding of needing to take a break sometimes. The same way you might want to take a detox from overeating sugar or consuming red meat, you can take a detox from your phone.


Detoxing from certain foods can clear out your system to rejuvenate your body, and detoxing from your phone can have a similar effect on the mind. It's an obvious sign that you are struggling with a phone addiction if the idea of doing a phone detox scares or repulses you. A phone detox shouldn't be something that makes you feel alarmed or disgusted. It's actually an exciting mission to approach since phone detoxes help you become more grounded and centered in this busy world. Plus, a social media break may be exactly what your mental health needs. 

You're dealing with neck, back, and shoulder pain

People with phone addictions often spend too much time hunching over their devices. This can lead to neck, back, and shoulder pains, also known as tech neck. When you sit in any position for an extended amount of time, it can cause some severe issues in your body. No one should be hunched over for too many hours in a row — for any reason. Unfortunately, this is a very common position for people who love to slouch on sofas, chairs, and beds as they scroll on their devices. 


Once you've spent multiple days, weeks, or months in a row leaning forward over your phone in the same position, it starts to feel normal and comfortable. Going out of your way to straighten your posture and hold your phone at a different angle becomes a daunting challenge. People who don't have phone addictions don't feel the need to hunch over their devices at all hours, which means they won't have to deal with neck, shoulder, and back pain for the same reasons.

You're averaging more than six hours per day of screen time

The healthiest amount of time to spend on your phone daily isn't supposed to extend beyond a couple of hours. According to Reid Health, about 30% of adults admit they spend time online "almost constantly." And a 2017 study shared by Preventive Medicine Reports found that if you're exposed to a screen for more than six hours a day, you're at higher risk for depression. Limiting your phone usage to no more than 30 minutes a day can significantly improve your happiness and mood, but does this sound realistic to you? 


People with phone addictions spend so much time scrolling that it doesn't feel great to set their phone down to focus on other things. Knowing that more than six hours spent on your phone leads to something as detrimental as depression is a huge deal, though. Turning off your notifications from different apps, utilizing "do not disturb" mode, setting a timer to control when you start and stop your phone usage, and charging your phone outside of your bedroom at night are some ideas to consider if you want to cut your screen time down.