Could your smart phone become an addiction? Could it become multiple addictions? According to an increasing amount of research, the answer is starting to look like 'yes.'
Gerry Cooney, a counselor at the Rutland Centre in Ireland, tells Elements Behavioral Health that smartphones can actually become a conduit for different varieties of addictions. Through smartphones, people are able to access social media, video games, online gambling, or pornography—any time of day or night.
Smartphone addiction is not listed as a legitimate form of addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), but research has compared it to gambling addiction—which can be found in the DSM-5.
Using gambling addiction as a template, researchers have started to put together diagnostic criteria for phone addiction or dependence. Four or more of the following signs might constitute an addiction:
- A need to use the cell phone more and more often in order to achieve the same desired effect.
- Persistent failed attempts to use cell phone less often.
- Preoccupation with smartphone use.
- Turns to cell phone when experiencing unwanted feelings such as anxiety or depression.
- Excessive use characterized by loss of sense of time.
- Has put a relationship or job at risk due to excessive cell phone use.
- Increasing tolerance, or need for the newest cell phone, more applications, or increased use.
- Withdrawal, when cell phone or network is unreachable—exemplified by anger, tension, depression, irritability or restlessness.
According to Pew Research Center, dependency on smartphones is much more common among lower-income and less educated populations, more common among the young than older generations, and actually more common in minority populations than whites.
Even tech giant Apple has responded to increasing concern over smartphone addiction among young people, saying that they "take this responsibility very seriously," promising to promote further study of links between smartphone usage and mental health issues.