Mobile Addiction: 3 Symptoms That You Are Hooked

Being hooked on your smartphone can have psychological and relational consequences.

mobile addiction

In the era of technology and communications, there is a phenomenon that is worrying mental health professionals: there are more and more people with mobile addiction, completely “hooked” on their smartphone.

We can see them absorbed in their day to day, messaging each other on WhatsApp, without being able to take their eyes off the screen. This leads them to constantly check if they have any new notifications, preventing them from enjoying day-to-day activities, since they always have a part of their mind pending the positive reinforcement provided by social networks or instant messaging apps. It is what is known as FOMO Syndrome, as described by psychologist Jonathan García-Allen.

What is mobile (cell) addiction?

Mobile addiction is becoming more common and is a sign that we are increasingly dependent on technology. Some people do not make a rational and positive use of them, but end up maintaining a dependency relationship with gadgets. Sometimes this addiction is known as the neologism nomophobia.

This addiction can lead to serious problems and discomfort.


Some of the symptoms and signs that may indicate that you suffer from addiction to your mobile phone (or cell phone , as it is known in Latin America), are the following:

  • The affected person is not able to eat, have a conversation, work or do pleasant activities without checking frequently if they have been texted or called through the mobile phone.
  • They are not able to sleep if they do not have their smartphone on.
  • They wake up frequently to check their cell phone for new messages or calls.
  • They regularly check the WhatsApp status of their friends and family.
  • They get anxious or sad if they lose or forget their cell phone.
  • They feel uneasy, anxious, or upset if their battery dies.
  • They check too often if someone has texted or called them. They are also aware of any notifications on their social networks.

Consequences and effects

There are a number of negative consequences derived from mobile phone addiction. These negative effects can be classified according to several characteristics.

1. Anxiety

As it is a dependency, it can be linked to states of anxiety and compulsion. When the person forgets their mobile at home, for example, they feel that something is missing, they feel isolated and this can generate anxiety and discomfort. Specifically, this malaise has recently been conceptualized as techno-stress.

2. Compulsion

The tendency to check the mobile every few minutes can be considered a compulsion. It is a behavior, an acquired habit that is not adaptive nor does it report anything positive to us, but that the addicted person cannot avoid.

3. Deterioration of personal relationships

There are also negative effects of mobile addiction linked to the deterioration of interpersonal relationships. Many experts point out the paradox that, in the historical epoch when we are more connected to other people and cultures, the more we suffer the effects of loneliness, isolation and misunderstanding.

We have all noticed that meeting friends have changed in the last decade. It is almost unthinkable that friendly conversations are not constantly interrupted by one of the friends, who cannot stop checking their mobile, answering messages, calls …

It is even possible to observe how in groups of friends, each and every one of them is more aware of their mobile phone than of the people in front of them. This kind of collective autism means that we do not enjoy interactions in person, since we are in multitasking mode and paying attention to the smartphone, which ends up distorting the meaning of the meeting, generating frequent pauses, and therefore not letting us flow and maintain a fresh and dynamic conversation.

The friendly presenteeism

In another old article by the occupational psychologist Jonathan García-Allen published in Psychology and Mind we talked about labor presenteeism. This phenomenon occurs when a worker goes to his job but, for some reason, dedicates a large part of the day to issues not related to his job functions.

Somehow, mobile addiction is causing a similar phenomenon in interpersonal relationships. Our friendly or romantic encounters are marred by constant interruptions. This alters the magic and the unique and unrepeatable character of each interaction.

The image that we show with this attitude is very negative. We have normalized it, but let’s stop to think for a second: how would we feel if someone we have been meeting was constantly losing focus on us to look at another individual sitting several meters away, or at a television screen? We would probably hold on for a few minutes, until we would get angry and leave the place.

Of course, there are people who do not have the bad habit of consulting their mobile phone while eating or going out for a drink with a friend. This is appreciated. And, of course, they deserve our respect and that we stop acting by dividing our attention between real conversation and virtual conversations. It is a matter of respect, of education and of valuing the other person and offering our full attention. Your time is just as valuable as ours.

Bibliographic references:

  • Davey S, Davey A (2014). “Assessment of Smartphone Addiction in Indian Adolescents: A Mixed Method Study by Systematic-review and Meta-analysis Approach”.
  • Gibson, E. (2011). Smartphone dependency: a growing obsession with gadgets. Available at: USA Today
  • Jonathan KJ (1998). “Internet Addiction on Campus: The Vulnerability of College Students”. CyberPsychology & Behavior. eleven).

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