How to Help a Loved One with a Smartphone Addiction
Table of Contents
- Signs Your Loved One is Addicted to His or Her Cell Phone
- How to Help Your Addicted Loved One
- Find Treatment for Your Loved One’s Cell Phone Addiction
With the emergence of smartphones and social media, there has been an increase of stress in romantic and familial relationships alike–so much so that the term “partner phubbing” (phone snubbing) has been coined.
Phone phubbing is “the extent to which an individual uses or is distracted by his or her cell phone while in the company of his or her relationship partner”3 and can negatively impact the user as well as those around him or her.
One study revealed that just over 46% of its participants reported having been phubbed by their partners and nearly 23% reported that it had caused conflict between them and their partners.3 Furthermore, neglect due to excessive smartphone usage has a negative impact upon mental health. 36.6% of study participants had felt depressed at one point or another after experiencing partner phubbing due to low relationship and life satisfaction.3
If you are upset by and concerned about your husband or wife’s smartphone addiction, remember that help is available for him or her. There are a number of different smartphone addiction treatment options which can help him or her begin the road to recovery.
Signs Your Loved One is Addicted
Distraction due to excessive cell phone use has become a concerning problem amongst married and committed smartphone users, especially for young adults.
42% of young adults have reported that they felt their partner was distracted by their mobile device while spending time together.2
Some tell-tale signs that your loved one may be addicted to their smartphone include if he or she:1
- Spends more time texting, tweeting, or emailing instead of talking to people in real life.
- Has been increasing the amount of time spent on the phone.
- Sleeps with the cell phone on or under the pillow.
- Consistently answers texts, tweets, or other social media comments at all hours of the day and night, including while he or she is spending time with you.
- Uses his or her phone while driving.
- Never leaves the house without his or her phone.
- Appears to be anxious or uncomfortable when there isn’t any service or the phone is broken.
- Eats meals with his or her phone on the table.
- Checks his or her phone when it hasn’t rung or vibrated, believing it to have.
- Has had persistent failed attempts to cut back on cell phone use.5
- Has put their job or relationship in jeopardy due to smartphone use.5
Furthermore, nomophobia is the fear of being without your mobile phone. Some signs that your loved one may be suffering from anxiety induced by a lack of cell phone or service include if he or she:4
- Appears annoyed when he or she can’t look up information on his phone.
- Appears to be stressed when phone battery is running out.
- Panics when monthly data limit is reached.
- Constantly checks for a signal or Wi-Fi connection, when there is none.
- Has expressed concern for getting stranded somewhere without his or her phone.
- Has acted anxious when disconnected from his or her online identity.
If you are concerned about your loved one’s cell phone addiction or he or she displays these tell-tale signs, then it may be time to call the number above to learn more about treatment options.
How to Help Your Addicted Loved One
The mere presence of a cell phone during an exchange has been proven to negatively impact connection, quality of conversation, and closeness in romantic and platonic relationships.6
You can imagine the detrimental effects cell phone addiction can have on human relationships. If you’re feeling worried, neglected, or depressed over your loved one’s smartphone addiction, it’s time to take the necessary steps to help your loved one.
Chances are, you’ve confronted your spouse or loved one many times about his or her smartphone addiction and to no avail. Addicted individuals often respond in a defensive manner when confronted, which is counterproductive to the recovery process.
CRAFT (community reinforcement and family training) can be an effective approach to utilize when speaking to your husband, wife, teen, or friend about his or her cell phone addiction. Some CRAFT strategies include:
- Communicating in an empathetic and nonjudgmental manner.8
- Demonstrate kindness and genuine concern for your loved one suffering from an addiction to his or her smartphone.
- This will help to minimize a negative reaction and promote a more positive and receptive environment.
- Making a list of your loved one’s positive qualities that are apparent without cell phone use.8
- This will help you to keep things in perspective as well as maintain a positive attitude.
- If all goes well and you receive an open-minded, positive response, you may proceed with suggesting therapy or counseling.8 If your loved one doesn’t believe treatment is necessary just yet, you can suggest a number of self-regulation methods such as:
- Setting time periods in which smartphone use is forbidden (driving, during a date, dinner time etc.).
- Download an application to help cut down on cell phone use (BreakFree, Menthal, ColdTurkey, SelfControl).
- Utilize relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and meditation in order to cope with cravings to access social media or use cell phone.
Just as it’s important to know how to speak to your loved one about his or her addiction, it’s also crucial you know how not to talk to him or her. Below are some things to keep in mind when communicating with your loved one about his or her smartphone addiction:
- Avoid blaming the individual for his or her addiction.8
- Make sure to come from an encouraging and collaborative perspective, instead.
- Do not talk down to or degrade your loved one.8
- This will result in a combative or defensive response as opposed to a receptive and open-minded one.
- Avoid trying to have a serious discussion with your loved one while he or she is engaged with his or her cell phone.8
- He or she will be distracted and won’t be suited to fully listen to your viewpoint. Kindly ask if he or she can put his or her phone away while you express your concerns.
Overall, it’s important to remember that you must foster a loving and caring environment if you would like your loved one to respond positively. This kind of environment will create trust moving forward.
Find Treatment for Your Loved One’s Cell Phone Addiction
If your loved one suffers from a severe addiction to his or her smartphone and is unable to cut back on use, then treatment may be necessary in order to recover. There are many different rehabilitation options available and it’s pertinent that you choose which kind of treatment will best suit your loved one’s specific needs.
Some recovery options include:
- Internet and Tech Addiction Anonymous (ITAA):9 A fellowship program that follows the 12 steps popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous. It aims to create a supportive and encouraging environment for members in which they can share their experiences concerning internet and technology addiction.
- Individual therapy: The therapist works with you one-on-one to address your problematic cell phone use and any underlying factors influencing your addiction.
- Motivational interviewing:10 Helps to improve intrinsic motivation to change negative behaviors into positive ones.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy:11 Evaluates the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and helps to change unhealthy thoughts which influence negative feelings and problematic behaviors.
- Camp Grounded:12 Summer camp for adults in which the individual experiences a total digital detox and engages in many different activities.
- Morningside Recovery:13 Has a special focus on dual diagnosis of a mental illness and nomophobia, the fear of being without your cell phone.
- Restart Center:14 Program lasting 8-12 weeks in which the person undergoes digital detox and works closely with counselors and coaches to create a plan upon completion.
Nothing is more important than your loved one’s recovery. Call the number above if you would like more information about smartphone addiction treatment options for your loved one.
- Greenfield, D. (2013). Smartphone Abuse Test. Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://virtual-addiction.com/smartphone-abuse-test/
- Lenhart, A., & Duggan, M. (2014, February 11). Couples, the Internet, and Social Media. Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/02/11/couples-the-internet-and-social-media/
- Roberts, J., & David, M. (2015). My life has become a major distraction from my cell phone: Partner phubbing and relationship satisfaction among romantic partners. Computers in Human Behavior, 54(January 2016), 134-141. Retrieved December 1, 2015, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563215300704
- Yildirim, C., & Correia, A. (2015). Exploring the dimensions of nomophobia: Development and validation of a self-reported questionnaire. Computers in Human Behavior, 49, 130-137. Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563215001806
- Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (5th ed.). (2013). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
- Przybylski, A., & Weinstein, N. (2012). Can you connect with me now? How the presence of mobile communication technology influences face-to-face conversation quality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 237-246. doi:10.1177/0265407512453827
- Getting an Addict into Treatment: The CRAFT Approach. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2015, from http://www.hbo.com/addiction/thefilm/supplemental/628_addict_into_treatment.html
- Internet & Tech Addiction Anonymous (ITAA). (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://www.netaddictionanon.org/
- Andreassen, C. (2015). Online Social Network Site Addiction: A Comprehensive Review. Curr Addict Rep Current Addiction Reports, 2015(2), 175-184. doi:10.1007/s40429-015-0056-9
- Young, K. (2007). Cognitive Behavior Therapy with Internet Addicts: Treatment Outcomes and Implications. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(5), 671-679. doi:10.1089/cpb.2007.9971
- Camp Grounded – Summer Camp for Adults – Digital Detox. (2014). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://campgrounded.org/
- ReSTART Center for Technology Sustainability. (2015). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://www.netaddictionrecovery.com/