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Am I addicted to smartphone?

Updated: 2014-03-20 07:29
By Craig Mcintosh ( China Daily)

I think my iPhone has destroyed my brain. I really do. I used to listen in meetings; now I browse the Internet. I don't text people using proper sentences anymore; I use ugly contractions such as "def" or "prob", and that's when I'm not resorting to smiley faces and winks.

I've had entire conversations in emoticons.

When did mobile devices, with all their early brain-training promise, become so dangerously addictive?

My arrival in China coincided with the early days of smartphones, and I remember constantly chiding any friends who dared check the Internet while I was talking to them - or even if I was simply present.

I've shared a cinema with someone who, having grown bored of the movie they had paid to see, began watching a different one on their iPhone, sans earphones. It took all the mental strength I had, not to reach over, grab it from their hands and thrown the device at the screen.

The worst scaldings I reserved for people who checked their phones at the dinner table.

Am I addicted to smartphone?

Slowly but surely, though, I have become what I loathe the most: A smartphone bore, the kind of person who will bury themselves in the news or e-mails or Twitter or Sina Weibo rather than talk to the people they are with.

For a long time, I refused to buy into the cult of mobile technology, particularly Apple. Ask most of my colleagues and they will tell you how vociferous I once was about Apple products being a big pile of rubbish. And now I'm actually contemplating buying an iPad Mini.

But am I an addict?

Perhaps not, if a 2011 survey by mobile navigation company Telenav is anything to go by. It asked more than 500 people in the United States what they would be willing to live without for a week to keep their phones.

Roughly 70 percent said they'd give up alcohol, while one-third said they'd forgo sex to hold on to their handsets.

More worryingly, 22 percent said they could do without a toothbrush. That's right. These people would rather knock others unconscious with their breath than risk a day without instant updates on Buzz Feed.

To top it off, 22 percent said they'd rather go a week without seeing their significant other than to have to forfeit their smartphone.

A guide to phone addiction by the writers of Digital Trends states you could well be in trouble if:

��you read about your phone on your phone,

��you have more than 30 apps and use all of them regularly,

��or a full battery lasts you only a day.

I can thankfully say no to all of these, but not the No 1 tell-sign: Using a smartphone in the toilet. It's wrong "not for hygienic reasons," DT writes, but because it has "tainted mankind's last fortress of solitude".

OK, I'm a bit of an addict. So, what's the solution for people who want to kick the habit?

According to psychiatrist Jeremy Spiegel, writing in Psychology Today, it's quite simple: Cold turkey. Go out and leave the phone at home, he suggests. "Over time, expanding your digital downtime from one hour to larger chunks of time, the heart rate slows down, you're less on edge."

The way I see it, before smartphones we used to have mystery in our lives. When we left the house, people didn't know where we were, we'd have something to tell them when we saw them. Now they can track our every move on Foursquare. We were also less likely to cancel a date with friends (often at the last moment) because it wasn't as easy as sending "soz, can't make it" on WeChat.

So I'm going to try and unplug every now and again, to save my brain.

I just hope I don't miss anything.


Am I addicted to smartphone?

(China Daily 03/20/2014 page20)