5 Ways To Break The Cycle Of Phone Addiction

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What Is Phone Addiction?

With more access and reliance on technology in the world, phone addiction has become an issue many adults and young people are facing. Also known as “nomophobia,” or fear of being without a phone, phone addiction can cause many psychological and social issues. Experts agree that phone addiction can lead to lessened creativity, anxiety, loneliness, insecurity, issues in work or school, and impaired relationships.

Warning Signs

The line between chronic phone use and phone addiction can be hard to understand. Below are a handful of ways to distinguish whether someone exhibits healthy or compulsive mobile use:

  • Increased time spent on the phone
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Lying about or hiding phone use
  • Having awful FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • Worsened anxiety, dread, or panic if you’re without your phone
  • Anger or irritation if your phone time is interrupted

Detecting these warning signs in individuals who are most vulnerable is especially important. This includes teenagers, who consistently are the highest users of smartphones, and those who struggle with low self-esteem or impulse control, anxiety and depression, or are highly extroverted.

While these factors won’t automatically lead to phone addiction, it’s important to know if you are vulnerable to overuse.

Consequences Of Phone Addiction

Experts agree that phone addiction can have many psychological impacts on people including anxiety, insecurity, aggravated ADD, and creativity blocks. It also can lead to worse performance in work or school and can impact your sleep.

Man lays in bed on his phone
Courtesy of Eren Li (via Pexels)

Why Are Phones So Addicting?

Smartphones and apps are designed to be addictive. With easy access to information and social connection, they can be hard to put down. Design of apps with bright colors, vibrations, and sounds give an experience that purposefully keeps people engaged.

Phones also can trigger dopamine, the chemical in the brain that triggers compulsive behaviors. Usually found in social interactions, dopamine emits a feel-good chemical that rewards behavior. When social media and the internet replace social interaction, phones become this source of dopamine.

The prolonged cycle of checking your phone to get a dopamine boost can take phone use from an enjoyable activity to an addiction.

Tips For Kicking A Phone Addiction

With all of the information about the dangers of phone addiction, it can seem overwhelming to deal with. Luckily, there are many ways you can reduce your screen time, whether you’re facing addiction or are just looking to spend more time unplugged. Here are five tips for getting started:

1. Figure Out Your Goal

Trying to spend less time on your phone without a clear goal can be difficult. Goals will look different for everyone depending on their level of connection to their phone. For some it might be cutting screen time by a third, for others it might be to stop using social media everyday. Understanding what you want will help you get where you need to go.

2. Set Limits

Many smartphones will let you create a limit for how much time you spend on specific apps. This can be an easy way to hold yourself accountable for the amount of time you’re spending on social media, games, or any other app.

3. Separate Yourself

Phone addiction is at its worse when people cannot last without their phones on them. Try to get comfortable being without your phone. Start small by leaving it in another room for half an hour or at home for a quick errand.

4. Develop Other Hobbies

Replace phone time with other things that bring you joy. Make plans to meet up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while; try reading a new book, making art, or volunteering. Replacing virtual activities with real world ones will give you the dopamine you need, without the guilt.

5. Be Mindful With Scrolling

Set out specific times in the day where you can scroll or check your phone. Instead of mindlessly pulling out your phone in every line, elevator, or quiet moment, set up specific times to be on your phone. This will let you know exactly how much time you’re spending on your phone and can decrease the need to persistently pull it out.


Smartphones and other technology are a part of our world that you can’t just choose to ignore, but that doesn’t mean they need to control your life. Be more intentional with your phone use and be on the lookout for those around you who might be struggling. Phone addiction is very real and common, but that doesn’t mean it needs to impact you forever.

This article was written exclusively for Love What Matters by Anna Steingruber. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.

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