Health officials are warning U.S. residents of a disorder that’s affecting millions of people: cell phone addiction. Excessive phone use can result in a hampered ability to think creatively; dread, anxiety, or irritability when a phone isn’t available; and irreversible damage to the user’s relationships, says Lynn Bufka, a senior director at the American Psychological Association. A user’s refusal to acknowledge these problems is a reliable indicator that “we’ve clearly crossed into problematic behavior,” Bufka says.
To put yourself on the path of healthier phone usage, Bafka suggests setting time limits for usage, trying to dismiss feelings of being left out of the loop, deleting apps that can be installed on a laptop or PC, and leaving phones out of bedrooms, where using them as alarm clocks can lead to late-night browsing. “If that’s the case, maybe you need to go back to a regular alarm clock and not pick up your phone immediately,” Bufka says. “Anything that requires a little more energy or effort to get to the device will give you more opportunity to pause in the habitual use of it.”