As technology continues to advance, smartphones are capable of connecting users to the internet and other people wherever they go. Because of this increased connectivity, addiction to the devices has become a legitimate concern of doctors, smartphone users and the companies that produce the devices.
Though smartphone addiction is generally seen as negative behavior, baseline reports that one positive side of smartphone addiction is that people who constantly use their phones can be more easily reached by their employers.
Studies have also shown that younger people have stronger connections to their phones than older members of the population. For example, one study found that 60 percent of respondents reported that they couldn't go more than one hour without checking their phone. Also, 73 percent of men between the ages of 18-34 said they couldn't go one hour without checking their phones while 63 percent reported the same.
Along with etiquette and risky behavior, smartphone addiction can have a serious impact on relationships. Cindy Krischer Goodman of the Miami Herald reported that some people who are in a relationship with a smartphone addict report that when their partner checks their phone often, it disrupts the relationship and can cause tension between the people in the relationship.
While smartphone addiction can lead to rude behavior such as checking the phone while eating a meal with others, it can also lead to more risky actions. For example, a study found that 24 percent of respondents said they have checked their phones while driving.
One problem with smartphone addiction - and addiction to other technological devices - is that people don't even realize that they are becoming addicted. The addiction of device users is common enough that device and software manufacturers are beginning to take notice of the behavior and participate in conferences such as Wisdom 2.0 where various aspects of technology are discussed.
Not only is smartphone addiction annoying and time consuming, it can also disrupt productivity in the work place. Samuel Greengard writes that constant interaction with smartphones in the workplace can cause employees to be overwhelmed with information causing them to forget work-related assignments and not devote full attention to workplace tasks. Also, constant smartphone use after work was found to decrease people's overall satisfaction with their job.
The Mother Nature Network also reports that smartphone addiction can be attributed to 'rewards.' Things such as text message alerts and email notifications serve as a reason to constantly check one's smartphone. Specifically, many of these notifications include real-time information about the world surrounding the smartphone user or even the whereabouts of friends and family.
Some reports narrow the topic of smartphone addiction to 'checking behaviors.' Checking behaviors are short references to the phone that are triggered by environmental factors such as boredom or times such as commuting when multitasking is possible.
Signs of smartphone addiction include: using a smartphone while driving, having problems managing time spent using the device or spending more time using a smartphone than originally intended, having friends and family criticize how much time a persons spends using a smartphone, missing the phone when it is not available, paying more attention to the phone than the events going on around the user, taking the phone wherever you go (including in the bathroom and when going to sleep), feeling anxious if the phone is lost, when checking the phone is the last thing done before going to sleep and when posting life events on social media start to replace actual human interaction.
Dr. Vivien Diller explains that before the age of mobile phones and even smartphones, whenever there was an emergency, people had to physically locate the people they wanted to connect with. But today, people have the ability to simply send a text, email or call the person(s) they want to reach. Because of this easy connection, Diller argues that people get anxious or nervous when they lose the ability to establish these connection whenever they want.
Susan Davis of WebMD explains that a recent study of 1,600 professionals and managers found that 70 percent of respondents check their smartphones within one hour of waking up in the morning, 51 percent check their phones compulsively while on vacation and that nearly half would feel a large degree of anxiety if they had to go without using their smartphone for a week.
In a world of technological advancement where the ability to connect with friends, family, news and entertainment sources is just a tap of the touchscreen away, an increasing number of sources, physicians and scholars are examining the phenomena of smartphone addiction.