Digital Lifestyle Guide

8 Signs Your Phone Dependency Has Gotten Out of Hand

Has Your Relationship with Your Phone Become Too Complicated?

Here are 8 signs that you and your phone both need some time to think about where your relationship is headed…

1. You’ve developed phone resentment.

Phone resentment is a combination of anger, impatience and bitterness directed toward your phone. It’s felt most strongly either when your phone fails to perform according to your expectations or when you become hyperaware of how profound your dependency is on your phone. Over time, it takes less of an inconvenience to trigger phone resentment. Prolonged phone resentment promotes treating your phone like it’s more disposable than it really is.

2. You now carry your phone in hand everywhere you go.

Forget your pocket or your bag. That’s too inconvenient. You need the quickest possible access to your phone. Just keep your phone in hand and you don’t have to focus on anything else but your ongoing message chains. And you never know when you might miss a call or text.

3. You’re unwilling to power off your phone.

When you’re awake, your phone is not allowed to sleep. Period. Only an empty battery will give your phone time off.

4. You’re usually anxious about putting your phone on silent.

Your anxiety about missing something is getting the best of you. Relying on vibrations feels like too much of a gamble. You’re willing to sacrifice the quality of your concentration to make sure you are alerted to all activity in your personal digital world. If powering off your phone is not an option, do yourself a favor and go silent for at least short periods of the day so that beeps and vibrations don’t keep interrupting the flow of your day.

5. When you’re angry, your phone is the first item you look to throw.

The displacement of anger onto your phone makes total sense, especially if you suffer from anger management issues to begin with. Throwing your phone is a dramatic gesture given how expensive and inconvenient it is to replace. Many of us grapple with a love-hate relationship with our phones, which makes it more likely that we will displace our anger onto it. In all seriousness, if you’ve ever thrown your phone in anger or disgust, it’s a tell-tale sign that you need to learn more advanced strategies for coping with anger and frustration. Phone throwing may be associated with a tendency to avoid taking responsibility for your own actions, to blame others excessively, or difficulty using language effectively to let others know how you feel. C’mon people…you’re phone is innocent.

6. You’ve become a phone saboteur.

This is my favorite sign of excessive phone dependency…You make choices that can easily lead to phone damage. You carry your phone in hand with heavy bags. You’re reckless with liquids around your phone. You talk on your phone in the rain. You bang it like a jukebox thinking that the right angle of impact will eliminate malfunctions. You might want to invest in a sabotage-proof case for your phone if you’re a risk taker.

7. You keep losing your phone.

If you’ve had to replace your phone more than once because you lost it, of course it might be about forgetfulness, disorganization, a tendency to party to excess, or a lack of investment in caring for your important belongings. I would argue that it could also signal the presence of intense phone dependency or resentment. Maybe you’re disgusted with how much you rely on your phone. Could your absentmindedness be a way to stop yourself from checking your phone? The point here is not to stop at a simple explanation as to why you keep losing your phone. There’s likely to be more to the story.

8. You feel prolonged, intense anxiety when your phone is briefly misplaced.

This is one of the clearest signs that you’ve let your dependency on your phone go too far or you haven’t taken the time to back up your data. If you can relate to this experience, consider adding more time in your day without screens. And know that eight out of ten times, it’s either between your couch pillows or in a pocket on your person. Constant worrying about losing your phone tells me that something needs to change…and the change has nothing to do with your phone.

What these 8 signs of intense and complicated phone dependency signal is a need to reevaluate how you live in your digital world. Do you need to make changes in your digital habits to untangle your relationship with your phone?

There’s valuable information available through a deeper analysis of your relationship with your phone. Some bad digital habits probably existed in one form or another even before you started carrying a phone.

Challenge: If you relate to any of the signs of phone dependency mentioned above, think of how this tendency plays out in other areas of your life. Commit to altering either your problematic phone habit or its closest similar manifestation in your non-digital world. 

Click around for more ideas for living a healthier existence with your personal technology.

Greg Kushnick, Psy.D. on Instagram
Greg Kushnick, Psy.D.
Dr. Greg Kushnick is Techealthiest's founder and blogger. He works as a clinical psychologist in private practice in Manhattan. On a broader scale, he is dedicated to helping the world adjust to (and eventually thrive with) new and unfamiliar lifestyle technology. Dr. Greg's inner blogging machine is fueled by his fascination with how personal technology impacts the way people think, feel and act. He thrives on the challenge of applying interpersonal dynamics to the human-gadget relationship and presenting his ideas to readers in a helpful way. He considers himself a family man and an explorer of city culture.
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