Are You “Addicted” Too?

texting on bike

Ok. I admit it. I’m an addict.

No, my addiction is not the first thing that comes to mind when you hear about addiction. I—like many people, young and old—am addicted to my smartphone.

I recently read a CNN article on smartphone addiction that brought this to my awareness. Yes, I do a lot of different things with my phone, but addiction? C’mon, surely not me! So, I took a smartphone abuse test. Taking that test confirmed that indeed I use my smartphone much more than I realized or would care to admit. I am not alone. The CNN article states that “around 90% of Americans would fall in the category of overusing, abusing or misusing their devices.” 90%! That’s an amazing number.

Then I became more aware of the usage of people around me. In the doctor’s office or the car dealer’s waiting room, most of the people use their smartphones to pass the time. Few are chitchatting with each other; the stack of magazines are left largely untouched. They might as well switch the TV off—it’s being tuned out by the smartphone zombies!

One of the criteria for the “addiction” is having your smartphone by your bed, it being the last thing you look at before going to bed and the first thing you pick up in the morning. I get it—but I use my phone as my alarm clock. So, yes, it is close by when going to sleep and its most annoying ringtone forces me to pick it up as soon as it stirs me awake, and each of the three times I swipe the snooze button. I guess this also means we all used to be addicted to our alarm clocks. Furthermore, a societal trend has been to save money and do without the traditional landline phone. If people don’t have a traditional phone anymore, it only makes sense that they would have their smartphone on their nightstand instead.

Let’s face it: they are called “smartphone” for a reason. They are smart enough to replace the alarm clock, Internet device, personal assistant, game console, camera, GPS navigator, flashlight and so on and on and on. With them you can text, IM, email and video chat. You can even make phone calls. The possibilities are endless! You might even be able to do your work on them. For example, our Spitfire Project Management System allows team members to work from anywhere, at any time, using their smartphones (and tablets). No wonder we are addicted to these devices!

Anywhere and any time must have limits though.

Ever get run into by the addict coming off the elevator without even looking up from the screen? Or seen addicted pedestrians crossing the street completely oblivious to traffic? Smartphone addiction not only affects the user, but also those around him or her.

By far the most alarming trend is usage of smartphones while driving. People dialing and texting while driving have led to very serious accidents. According to textinganddrivingsafely.com, 23% or 1.3 million crashes in 2011 involved phones.

I urge all fellow smartphone addicts to never let your smartphone take precedence when driving. It really can and must wait, and there are apps to help you not be a distracted driver.

I have come to terms with my smartphone addiction. I will continue to use many of its wonderful features and tools in my personal and professional life, but now I have a greater awareness of when and how I use it, always remembering that I must be smart, because it really isn’t smart at all.

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About Steve Stouber

Steve Stouber is Spitfire's top support analyst, helping all clients with their issues, big and small, and getting new clients up and running smoothly. His postings on this site are all his own and do not necessarily represent Spitfire's positions, strategies or opinions.

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