What is smartphone addiction? And are we all hooked?

Do you sometimes wake in the middle of the night and immediately reach for your smartphone? Or put down your knife and fork during meal times to check social media? Have you ever had arguments with those closest to you about how much time you spend on your device?

If so, you’ve probably got a smartphone addiction. And you’re far from alone.

What is smartphone addiction?

Smartphone addiction is the feeling of constantly having to check your device for messages, missed calls or social media posts. The most serious cases see people checking their phone in their sleep, or at times when it’s not socially acceptable, such as mealtimes. Sufferers will often deny they have any sort of addiction and it can caused a strain on relationships.

That all may sound like something straight out of a Charlie Brooker satire, but smartphone addiction is a very real affliction and one that is becoming a growing problem across the UK, according to the results of a study from Deloitte.

Deloitte’s damning statistics

Deloitte’s sixth annual Mobile Consumer Survey analysed the mobile phone habits of more than 4,000 UK consumers and found that four-in-five (80%) UK adults now have a smartphone, that’s around 37 million people.

Of this number, one-in-three (33%) have admitted to arguing with their partner about one of them using their phone too much, and while rows were most common among 25-34 year olds, around one-in-ten (11%) of over-65s have had the same issues.

A third (33%) of respondents said they regularly use their phone while watching television, while around a tenth (11%) admitted to either always, or at least very often, using their handsets while eating, either at home or in restaurants.

One in three UK adults, and half of 18-24 year olds, said they checked their phones in the middle of the night, with instant messaging and social media the most popular activities.

One in 10 smartphone owners admitted reaching for their phone as soon as they woke up – with a third grabbing the device within five minutes of waking.

What is the problem?

The good news is, this smartphone addiction could be a temporary thing as we all get used to the new technology.

Paul Lee, head of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte said: “What smartphones enable people to do is to keep tags of what’s happening, what people are saying, what people are posting. You can do that throughout the day and what smartphones are encouraging people to do is to do that at night,”

He added: “We’re getting used to how to use this tech which let’s remind ourselves is just nine years old. When we have something new we tend to overreact to it.”

And it’s true there is no a slowing down of smartphone sales, as growth in new users slowed to 7% in the year to June 2016, from 9% in the previous 12 months.

So it remains to be seen just how smartphones will shape our long term future behaviour, what is certain though is we could all do with taking a break from our devices and stop being always switched on.

Are you suffering from smartphone addiciton? Or do you think someone you know it? Let us know your experience in the comments below…

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