If you’re about my age, you’re likely to have been told by your parents or grandparents that you’re addicted to your smartphone. And honestly - maybe you are. Smartphone addiction can be very subtle, thus making it hard to identify. It’s actually a lot more common than you’d think.
But what exactly is smartphone addiction and are you really addicted to your smartphone? Let’s find out together.
What is smartphone addiction?
First of all, there is no specific amount of times you check your phone that indicates that you’re struggling with addiction. Checking your phone often only becomes a problem when it makes you neglect other important aspects of your life, such as work or relationships. If you find yourself spending more time scrolling through your Instagram feed than talking to real people, you might want to overthink the usage of your phone.
This being said, when someone is struggling with “smartphone addiction” what they’re really dealing with is usually an addiction to the internet. Whenever they check their phone, dopamine, a brain chemical that makes us happy, is being released. Unfortunately, much like with drug or alcohol abuse, your tolerance can build up quickly and you will need to spend more and more time on your phone in order to feel the same high.
Developing a smartphone addiction can be a symptom of other problems
in your life, such as feeling anxious, depressed
or lonely. Especially as an Au Pair who doesn’t know anyone in their Host Country yet, you’re prone to feeling lonely. But using your phone to soothe yourself will only cut you off further, actually making those feelings worse.
Unable to complete tasks
Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to do everything your Host Parents asked you to?
If the stack of laundry you’re supposed to do is getting bigger and bigger or your Host Kids’ rooms are a mess, because you spent to much time texting your friends at home, you might want to reset your priorities.
Are you spending more time texting your friends at home than you are looking for new friends in your Home Country? I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk to your old friends. Just make sure to build new relationships abroad
. After all, you can’t hug your friends at home if you’re hundreds of miles away, right?
Hiding your smartphone use
If you feel yourself sneaking off to the bathroom to use your phone, you already know deep inside, that you shouldn’t be using it at the moment. If you still can’t help it, you might have a problem.
Fear of missing out
Yes, you’re far away from your friends and family. It’s normal that you feel like you’re missing out on a lot. Whether it be a birthday party you couldn’t go to or your friend’s new boyfriend
you didn’t get to meet: there will be things that will make you feel homesick.
But looking at the seemingly perfect lives your friends present on social media won’t make you feel better.
Panic without phone
If you accidentally left your phone at home and start to get very anxious, you might be more attached to it than you’d like. Some even experience “phantom vibrations”, which make you check your phone for new messages even though there are none.
So you’ve noticed that you’re using your phone a lot and want to cut back on your screen time. But as soon as you try to check your phone less you feel restless, maybe even angry and all you really want to do is look on your phone. Yup, you’re probably addicted.
Beating smartphone addiction
You don’t need to sell your phone
in order to beat your smartphone addiction. After all, we need a phone in the modern world. Your goal shouldn’t be to stop using your phone once and for all, but to get to a healthy
amount of time you use it. You can start by setting specific times of the day when you’re allowed to use your phone. Turn it off for the rest of the day.
Also, don’t bring it to bed with you. The blue light from the screen can make you sleep worse. So turn it off and leave it in another room til morning.
Remove social media
Social media apps are what we spend most of our time on when we’re on our phone. The less apps, the less time on your phone.
Try to replace checking social media with healthier activities, such as working out
, meeting with friends or reading a book.
Building new relationships
As an Au Pair, you might overly use your smartphone, because you feel lonely. So why not fix the problem
by making new friends
? Try finding people with similar interests by signing up for a dance class or language course
, for example.
Dealing with your Host Kids’ smartphone addiction
Yes, kids can be addicted to phones, too. If you’re noticing some of the symptoms mentioned above in your Host Kids, don’t hesitate and start to educate them
on how to have a healthy relationship with their phone. For example, create phone-free times and places
, such as dinner- or bedtime. Insist they turn off their phones at night and leave them in another room. Try to go outside with them. Spend valuable time with them
without taking your phones out. Encourage their interests and social activities and they won’t feel the need to be on their phones.
But most importantly: Be a good role model. You can tell your Host Kids to not use their smartphones as often as you want. If you don’t follow the rules you made yourself, they won’t listen to anything you say. Whether they tell you or not, your Host Kids look up to you and imitate your behavior, so manage your own smartphone addiction first.
Well, after writing this article, I’m going to delete my Facebook. I hope you know how to deal with your addiction now, too.