An American study published in Computers in Human Behaviour has given us another reason to limit how much we use our smartphones.
The study draws links between overuse of a mobile phone and an increased risk of mental health issues. This is partly due to the constant access we have to our smartphones, which means they can easily be used as a way of escaping problems instead of dealing with them.
Here are the top five signs you should increase the time your smartphone’s not in your hand, by Ally Bodnaruk.
1. Messenger Apps
Using messenger apps or texting is a great way to keep in touch with faraway or busy friends and loved ones. But it shouldn’t be your only source of conversation. Speaking to people face-to-face has some amazing mental health benefits that digital communication can’t quite replace just yet.
Mobile games are great. They’re a fun way to pass time on the morning commute or a way to chill out after a long day at work—many of them are even designed so that you can play with friends. But if you find yourself spending so much time on one of these mobile games that you begin putting off doing other things it might be time for a break. Games especially shouldn’t interfere with your sleep schedule.
There are a lot of ways your phone can cost you money—excess data usage, in-app purchases, and all of the other ways you can spend money online. There’s no way to have a smartphone without spending money (though if you find one let us know!), but if you find that the amount your spending each month is unmanageable you might need to reconsider the way your use your phone.
4. Escaping Reality
One aspect of problematic phone usage that the American study highlights is relying on your phone to alleviate a bad mood. It’s okay to turn to your phone after a bad day—maybe watch some YouTube, or scroll through Facebook or Instagram to take your mind off it. But if you’re using your phone so much that you’re not taking time to process and deal with the bad feelings that’s when it becomes unhealthy.
This one is a no-brainer. If you regularly use your phone while driving you are using your phone too much. It’s dangerous to yourself and others. If you really need to be able to take and receive calls while driving make sure you have a hands-free or Bluetooth set-up.