How smartphone addiction is linked to depression and anxiety

Most people claim they wouldn’t be able to spend a day without their smartphone even though experts warn these devices could increase the risk for depression and anxiety.

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Technology constantly evolves. Just a couple of years ago we used phones that barely had a camera that took low-quality photos. Nowadays, we use smartphones with not one but two cameras, bunch of apps, and it’s needless to mention we spend most of our free time browsing through social media and instant messaging services.

Most people claim they wouldn’t be able to spend a day without their smartphone. However, experts warn these devices, although useful and practical, could still increase the risk for depression and anxiety. Is that really true? Keep reading to find out.


Are your mobile devices really linked to anxiety and depression?

Tayana Panova and Alejandro Lleras of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign conducted a study to inspect whether your phone is detrimental to your mental health. For the purpose of the study, researchers surveyed more than 300 university students.

Participants had to complete questionnaires which addressed their mental health, amount of phone and internet use as well as motivation for using their devices.

The primary goal of questionnaires was to examine whether addictive and self-destructive behaviors with phone and internet are associated with one’s mental health. Results of this study were published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior and they showed that participants who described their attitude towards internet and smartphone as addictive scored higher on anxiety and depression scales.


More evidence confirms the depression - smartphone link

The link between smartphone and depression is subject of numerous studies mostly because experts are confident that excessive usage of these devices can affect your mental health. For example, David Mohr and team of scientists of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine conducted a study that included 28 participants. Scientists tracked two weeks’ of phone usage and GPS data from participants’ phones.

Results of this were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research and they showed that the more time a person spent on their phone, the more likely they were to be depressed.

In fact, the average daily smartphone use by participants with depression was 68 minutes. On the other hand, participants who didn’t have depression used their phone 17 minutes. GPS analysis also showed that participants with depression spent more time at home or in fewer locations compared to their counterparts. Scientists also pointed out that smartphone data was 87% accurate in spotting individuals with depression.


Are you addicted to your smartphone?

Throughout this article you’ve had the opportunity to see science-based evidence that using smartphone excessively can contribute to depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, most people don’t even recognize signs of phone addiction. Below, you can see what they are:

-Your phone is constantly in your hand

-You can’t go through a day without your phone

-Phone battery dies in just a few hours

-You adjust your commitments according to the battery i.e. if battery is low you’re going to leave your appointment or lunch early so you can charge your phone

-You check your phone without reason

-You constantly have the feeling you’re missing out on something if you don’t check your phone

-First thing you do in the morning is checking your phone as well as the last thing before going to bed

-You are obsessed with notifications, updates etc.

-Your relaxing or de-stressing time doesn’t involve turning off your phone

-You don’t go to places that have no wi-fi access

-Phone affects your everyday life and work commitments

-People in your life have complained that you use phone way too much

-You find yourself rushing to complete a school assignment or work project because you wasted too much time using your phone (usually instant messaging apps).


Beat your digital addiction

Here are some tips you can follow if you're looking to stop your digital addiction :

-Don’t use your phone the first 30 minutes after waking up

-Create no-phone time zone, turn off your phone or simply disconnect wi-fi or switch to silent (so you don’t hear notifications) for 2 hours of each day

-Never use a phone in your car

-Don’t use your phone when having a serious conversation with someone, or if you’re at a meeting, vacation etc. You don’t really need to check your phone while sitting in a coffee shop with your friend.

-Don’t use your phone in bed and make sure it’s not even near e.g. don’t keep it under your pillow or on a nightstand

-Only use phone when you NEED it i.e. check your phone when you have a strong reason to do so

-Bear in mind the world won’t fall apart if you don’t check your phone and you’re not missing out on anything important

-Strive to experience the world around you to the fullest instead of ignoring it.