Let's be honest: Smartphones have dramatically changed our lives. In addition to making calls and sending texts, these magical small computers can do almost anything with just one touch. However, there may be some signs that you're on your phone too much without you even noticing them — and they could be negatively influencing your personal and professional life.
"Being on the phone too much can take you away from the things that matter. For example, people who are on the phone too much, or are texting too much, [and] are not present and paying attention to the person they are with. It is disrespectful. It takes them out of the everyday world and keeps them from directly interacting with present people, which is an essential skill for people to have," says Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, in an email to Bustle. While it's great to be able to answer emails on the go, you shouldn't be using your smartphone when your loved ones are trying to hang out with you. After some time, being on your phone too often can negatively affect your friendships and well-being.
"When you're constantly on your phone, you're living in your head rather than living your life. Think about it: being on the phone means you're constantly living in the digital world. You're reading about what everyone else is doing, and probably making up stories about them. This promotes a sense of comparison and competition, which can be really detrimental to one's well-being," says life coach Alionka Polanco in an interview with Bustle over email.
Even though the smartphone is not going to go anywhere any time soon, this doesn't mean you need to let it completely control your life. Here are 11 signs you might be on your phone too much.
1. You're Constantly Checking Your Phone
While it's normal to check your phone every once in a while, it's another thing if you look at it every five seconds. "They can not leave it alone. They are checking it constantly. They are not paying attention to the people they are with as they are so immersed in talking, texting, reading, and gaming on their phone. They can not make it through a meal being present the person they are with, without checking their phone," says Martinez of someone who constantly checks his/her phone.
2. Your Partner Is Feeling Neglected
Don't let your phone come between you and your SO. Spending quality time with your partner is far more important than looking at your phone and checking your social media accounts. "[If you're on your phone too much,] your partner is [probably] feeling neglected, jealous or suspicious. You do not know what is going on in your partner's life, as you're not making or taking the quality time to ask and listen to what is going on with them. Your partner is annoyed with you, and you're not certain [as to why], but suspect it's because you're more focused on your phone than [with] them," says Martinez.
3. You're More Interested In Social Media Than Talking With Your Friends
The reason you hang out with your friends is because you enjoy their company. While it's cool to show them funny memes and videos, you don't want that to be the only topic of conversation you have with them. "You can not leave [your phone] at home, in your purse, in your car, or face down through a visit or a dinner. You are more engrossed with what's happening with your phone than what's going on right in front of you," says Martinez of someone who could be obsessed with social media.
4. You Don't Communicate Face-To-Face As Often As You Used To
If you don't remember the last time you had a meaningful conversation with someone you care about without looking at your phone, then you might be on your cellphone too much. Giving your undivided attention in a face-to-face conversation can make the person you're talking with feel special and heard. "You hinder the continued use and development of social skills with actual physical people, a big issue for those with social anxiety. You forget what it's [like] to be present, caring and [engaging] with others," says Martinez.
5. You're Constantly Comparing Yourself To Others
It can be hard not comparing yourself to others when you're constantly looking at perfectly curated images on your social media accounts. You may even feel sad if you only get a certain amount of likes on your images. "People feel like a failure because they're constantly comparing themselves to others," says Polanco.
6. Your Life Has Become Dull
Have you ever been surrounded by friends but had nothing to talk about? It might be because you're on your phone, not experiencing life. "They feel asleep in their lives because rather than living their own, they're watching others' every move. They feel bored without it!" says Polanco.
7. You Stopped Actively Listening To Others
"You find yourself murmuring 'mm hmm' to the majority of your friends and family. This is the 'cop-out' response when we're multi-tasking, to keep the conversation flowing but we're not actually listening actively," says holistic wellness coach Pax Tandon in an interview with Bustle over email. Honestly, it's rude to scroll through your phone while someone is talking. If you need to check your phone, apologize to the person you're talking to, communicate that you need to check your phone, and then put it away.
8. You're Experiencing Physical Pain
Constantly being on your phone may cause you to break out (because your phone is that dirty) and injure your neck or ear. "Your neck/ear begins to hurt on the phone-dominant side (i.e. the side you predominantly use to hold the phone)," says Tandon.
9. You Get Anxious When You Don't Know Where Your Phone Is
"If they feel [anxious], irritable, overly preoccupied with their phone, very uncomfortable if they can't use [it], or are away from their phone for short period of time," says psychotherapist and author of Your Best Age is Now Robi Ludwig in an interview with Bustle over email. These are all signs that you may be addicted to your phone. If you feel these symptoms on a regular basis, it might be time to put your phone away.
10. You Fill Quiet Moments By Checking Your Phone
"If you fill up the quieter moments of life, or potentially intimate moments you have while in the presents of other people, with phone time [you might be using your phone too much]," says Ludwig. It's easy to feel anxious when you have nothing to do, but instead of reaching for your phone, opt for something completely different. For instance, try reading a book or learning a new language. It's better to teach yourself something new instead of scrolling through social media.
11. You Ignore People When You're On Your Phone
"Ignoring the people you care about to look and be with your phone [is not a good idea]. Giving others in your life the feeling that they don't exist or don't matter as much as your screen time on your phone [can hurt your relationships]," says Ludwig. Put yourself in your friends' shoes. If you would feel hurt that your friends were ignoring you while they were on their phone, then it might be a good idea to give your friends the same respect when you talk with them.
While having a cellphone is a great tool to have, you don't want it to affect your social life. Use it when you need to, but put it away when you're with your friends. I'm sure they'll truly appreciate it.