Understanding Behavioural Addiction and Smartphone Addiction

Understanding Behavioural Addiction and Smartphone Addiction
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Smartphones have changed modern society, but excessive use can lead to behavioural addiction, which is an addiction to non-substances.

Despite the potential danger, addiction to smartphones is often dismissed as irrelevant. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize the consequences of excessive smartphone usage and take prudent measures to prevent addiction.

Some people become so dependent on their smartphones that they develop separation anxiety when it is not with them. This dependence on smartphones has turned them into an indispensable element of a behavioural addict’s daily life. 

Read more to learn about how smartphones can feed behavioural addiction.

Addiction Evolution: From Mobile Phones to Smartphones

Smartphones and mobile phones are both portable gadgets that reflect personal social identity and status that inform our ego. However, the fundamental distinction between them is that a smartphone provides relies on access to the internet. 

As a result, smartphones can influence various behaviour patterns, offering many gratifications, including sociability, entertainment, information discovery, time management, coping mechanisms, and the maintenance of false social identity.

Smartphones have become essential today, and beyond their practical uses, smartphones can become a “security blanket” effect during stressful times. This effect is similar to what children experience with comfort items like blankets and toys.

Understanding Behavioural Addiction and Smartphone Addiction
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Symptoms & Effects of Smartphone Addiction

Nomophobia, or the fear of being without a mobile phone, is a growing concern for mental health experts. In fact, excessive smartphone use has been considered a disorder due to its psychological and behavioural effects on many people.

People who suffer from nomophobia may experience certain withdrawal symptoms or anguish when they are unable to use their phones. This condition may lead to symptoms such as excessive certainty, impulsivity, and introversion, which are similar to many compulsive disorders.

Also, smartphone addiction has been linked to numerous detrimental effects, such as psychological distress, musculoskeletal injuries, risky driving and work behaviours, and deteriorating personal relationships. 

Smartphones are highly salient devices that utilise strong reinforcement behavioural materials to keep us engaged. They reel us into potentially addictive activities, such as social media use, online shopping, gaming, and even gambling.

The constant use of multiple apps(especially interdependent ones) creates a cycle of habitual reinforcement that can result in smartphone addiction.

Understanding the causes and consequences of smartphone addiction can help avoid its adverse impacts on mental and physical health.

Understanding Behavioural Addiction and Smartphone Addiction
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PSU (Problematic Smartphone Use)

Smartphone addiction is a recognized problem that can negatively affect a person’s life. It is caused by repeatedly engaging in pleasurable activities that can cause total loss of control.

The main causes of this addiction are loneliness and self-regulation deficits. Excessive smartphone use can lead to familial and personal conflicts, as well as very poor academic performance.

A comprehensive review on problematic smartphone use (PSU) found that young, educated women and girls are more likely to engage in PSU than men. If you or someone you know is struggling with smartphone addiction, seek professional help to address the issue.

Although smartphone addiction is similar to most addictive diseases, it is becoming a more prevalent issue due to the widespread use of smartphones in modern society.

The risks of smartphone addiction are even more subtle and common since smartphones are small, portable, and easy to use. Learning mechanisms are crucial in the development of this addiction, as they are in many other addictive behaviours. Many psychologists describe conditioning ideas that probably affect PSU (problematic smartphone use) and these behaviours are very challenging to stop because they become basic routine and consequently become mainly unconscious routine. 

Are there Negative Effects to Limiting Smartphone Use?

Going cold turkey on smartphone use has been found to be negatively impactful in curbing behavioural addiction, especially for those already addicted.

The side effects of limiting smartphone use are similar to withdrawal symptoms related to substance addiction. To address this issue, a study with 127 participants between the ages of 18 and 48. Participants were placed in either a restricted condition or a control condition and completed the Smartphone Withdrawal Scale (SWS), Fear of Missing Out Scale (FoMOS), and Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) three times per day during the 72 hours of smartphone restriction.

The findings revealed that those who had to refrain from using their smartphones experienced more negative effects than those that controlled their usage. 


In conclusion, while smartphones provide numerous benefits, they also raise concerns about addiction. We need to understand the impact of smartphone use in order to maintain a healthy device-use relationship and curb behavioural addiction.

Support your smartphone control goals with Applatch, the mobile app that lock addictive apps for a desired period. Whoever you choose as an accountability partner will be the only person who can pause or stop your session before the allotted time.

This way, you can gradually achieve a balance on your cellphone usage and take control of your smartphone addiction.

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