In This Article While a smartphone, tablet, or computer can be a hugely productive tool, compulsive use of these devices can interfere with your daily life, work, and relationships.
When you spend more time on social media or playing games than you do interacting with real people, or you can’t stop yourself from repeatedly checking texts, emails, news feeds, websites, or apps—even when it has negative consequences in your life—it may be time to reassess your technology use.
By learning about the signs and symptoms of smartphone and Internet addiction and the ways to break free of the habit, you can better balance your life, online and off.
So what causes our obsession with these always-connected devices?
Smartphones, tablets, or the Internet can be addictive because their use, just like the use of drugs and alcohol, can trigger the release of the brain chemical dopamine and alter mood.
And just like using drugs and alcohol, you can rapidly build up tolerance so that it takes more and more time in front of these screens to derive the same pleasurable reward.
Excessive use of sex and dating apps that facilitate casual sex can make it more difficult to develop long-term intimate relationships or damage an existing relationship.
While you can experience these impulse-control problems with a laptop or even desktop computer, the size and convenience of smartphones and tablets means that we can take them just about anywhere and gratify our compulsions.
In fact, studies suggest that most of us are rarely ever more than five feet from our smartphones.Many people admit to regularly using them in theaters, while driving, during religious services, business meetings, kids’ school performances, in the shower, and even during sex.After all, it’s rarely the phone or tablet itself that creates the compulsion, but rather the games, apps, and online worlds it connects us to.Smartphone addiction can encompass a variety of impulse-control problems, including: Compulsive use of Internet pornography, sexting, nude-swapping, adult chat rooms, or messaging services can impact negatively on your real-life intimate relationships and overall emotional health.While online pornography and cybersex addictions are types of sexual addiction, the Internet makes it more accessible, relatively anonymous, and very convenient.It’s easy to spend hours on a smartphone or tablet engaging in fantasies impossible in real life.