Addicted to mobiles?

Is everything potentially addictive?

Addiction isn’t just associated with drugs. If you have a smartphone, do you regularly run out of data?

Do people in your family complain that you use it too much? Does keeping up with friends on the phone get in the way of other things, such as school? Do you constantly find it in your hands? Do you keep upgrading to a newer model? Do you get really upset if you can’t get a signal for more than a few minutes?

If so, says, Mariano Choliz of the University of Valencia in Spain, your relationship with your mobile has the marks of an addiction. 

These questions are similar to the tests being applied by experts trying to decide whether to include uncontrollable internet use in official manuals of diseases. If these can be diagnosed as addictions, could any compulsive behaviour be?

The route to this kind of behavioural fixation is different from the route to substance dependence – as any effects on the brain are indirect. Other research has shown that people trying to give up mobile phones for 24 hours suffered psychological withdrawal symptoms – and some physical ones. There are even now rehabilitation centres for people who are apparently unable to give up their phones.

Calling these addictions is still controversial. Some argue such compulsions usually stem from some other underlying cause, such as depression or anxiety, while other research suggests that overuse of technology may itself lead to mental health problems.

Lead image:

uditha wickramanayaka/Flickr


About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Addiction’ in June 2010 and reviewed and updated in September 2015.

Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development