I have a love/hate relationship with my smartphone. I love the fact that I can use it for more tasks than simply having a conversation with another person. I hate the fact that I have a hard time putting it down.

Most of you know what I’m talking about. According to a Pew Research report, 96% of Americans own a cellphone of some kind, and 81% of Americans own a smartphone. According to another study, a staggering 65.6% of Americans check their smartphones up to 160 times per day! In fact, there’s a good chance you’re reading this article on your phone right now!

7 Signs You’re Addicted to Your Phone

The reality is that many people are addicted to their smartphone. If you’re wondering if you are one of those people, here are 7 signs that you might be addicted:

  1. You check your phone before you get out of bed. I have a nightstand beside my bed, and it’s a convenient place to charge my phone overnight. Unfortunately, when I wake up in the morning, I often find myself reaching for my phone before throwing back the covers. If you find yourself in a similar struggle, you might be addicted to your phone. As Tony Reinke states powerfully in his helpful book, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You, “Our phones are addictive, and, like addicts, we seek hits immediately in the morning. And, yes, there’s an app for that.”
  2. You check your phone during meetings. There might be legitimate reasons for doing so, but we often pull out our phones whenever we are bored. We’ve all experienced boring meetings before (or perhaps even led them!), but if you can’t resist the urge to pull out your phone during an uninteresting moment, you might be addicted to your phone. Chuck Lawless recently wrote a good article about why you need to put the phone down during meetings and conversations.
  3. You check your phone during casual conversations. Not only do we sometimes attend boring meetings, but we also engage in dull conversations at times. Whenever that happens, there’s an immediate urge to pull out our phones to find something that might be more interesting than our current conversation. If that describes you, there’s a good chance you’re addicted to your phone.
  4. You check your phone while watching television. Imagine that you walk into a room. The television is on, but no one is watching it. Everyone is staring at their phones, tablets, or laptops. Okay, you probably don’t have to imagine it. Your tv might be on right now! 
  5. You check your phone during meals. Prior to COVID, most families struggled to share a meal together because of busy schedules. However, although more families have been seated at the table together during the past few months, there’s still a temptation to take a bite in between swipes on your phone. If you bring your phone to the dinner table, you might be addicted to it.
  6. You check your phone at a stoplight. When you apply the brakes at a red light, do you immediately reach for your phone? If so, that’s a sure sign that you’re addicted. If you check your phone while driving, then your situation is quite serious.
  7. You check your phone during spiritual activities. I realize that most Christians have some type of Bible app on your phone. I’m not talking about that. However, during a worship service, are you unable to resist the urge to check Facebook or Instagram? During your daily quiet time, are you able to delay responding to that text message? If you check your phone during spiritual activities for reasons not directly related to those activities, you might be addicted to your phone. After surveying more than 8,000 Christians for his book, Tony Reinke observed, “When asked whether they were more likely to check email and social media before or after spiritual disciplines on a typical morning, 73 percent said before.”

So, how many of these signs describe you? If the answer is 0, then congratulations! You’re not addicted to your phone. You can go ahead and stop reading now. For the rest of us, read on!

7 Ways to Curb Your Addiction

I’m guessing that most of you are just like me. You also have a love/hate relationship with your phone. While it’s convenient and often entertaining, it’s difficult to put it down. If that describes you, here are 7 practical ways to curb your addiction.

  1. Turn off notifications. I cannot tell you how much this has helped me! If you have been trained to grab your phone every time it beeps or buzzes, turn off the notifications. Remove the bad habit’s trigger.
  2. Turn on Do Not Disturb. This one is especially helpful during spiritual activities or when you are working on a big work project and need to concentrate. Most calls, texts, emails, and notifications are not emergencies. You can respond at a later time when it’s convenient to do so.
  3. Leave the phone in another room. This method is very effective. You will be less likely to grab your phone if it’s in another room. If you’re like me, you will actually need to use it before you will inconvenience yourself to get up and get it. One of the reasons that we are so addicted to our phones is because they are conveniently on our person most of the time. To break the addiction, make it inconvenient.
  4. Delete time-wasting apps. Do you really need all of those social media apps on the phone? Do you really need all of those games? I honestly don’t know the answer for you. Perhaps you do. But, it’s definitely worth asking the question. Do the pros of these apps outweigh their cons? If not, delete them today.
  5. Enlist an accountability partner. Enlist a friend who will help you monitor your smartphone usage. Send your usage to this person on a pre-determined schedule (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.). It’s amazing how quickly I will think twice about checking my phone if I know that someone else will ask me why I wasted 30 minutes watching another cat video!
  6. Store your phone in another room while you sleep. Similar to #3, charge your phone somewhere else than your bedroom nightstand. If you use your phone for your alarm, you may need to buy a new alarm clock!
  7. Turn it off! When in a meeting or a conversation, turn off the phone. When having dinner with your family, turn off your phone. When reading your Bible or some other activity, turn it off. The most used button on your phone should be the power button!

There are many other ways to break your phone addiction, but these have been helpful for me. What has been most helpful for you? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts!

Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

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