Compulsive Phone Checking?
It’s 9:30am on a gorgeous, albeit scorching hot, morning in Rancho Mirage, California and I’m leaving a group lecture on the family dynamics of addiction at a world-renowned addiction treatment facility. As if it’s been magnetically cued I find my right hand patting the rear pocket of my jeans in search of an iPhone.
It’s not there.
After looking around to make sure no one watched me patting my own rear I am awe struck at the fact that, for no reason at all and without thinking about it, I compulsively reached for my cell phone.
As many of you know I just returned from a week long medical student program at The Betty Ford Center where I was taught about addiction from lectures by world-famous experts and through immersion into their patient treatment program. The center, with great reason, does not allow cell phones on campus and on Monday morning I suddenly found myself connection-less for the first time in years. I remembered an article I had read on CNN not long ago that discussed the addictive nature of smartphone checking.
So, there I am in the middle of a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center finding myself addicted to my phone. Or, as the article and this research paper suggest, addicted to checking – a repetitive behavior eerily similar to the training method I used to teach Wrigley to give me a high five.
Behavior. TREAT! Behavior. TREAT! Behavior. TREAT! Behavior. Behavior. Behavior. TREAT! Behavior. Behavior. Behavior. TREAT! Behavior. TREAT! Behavior. Behavior. Behavior. Behavior. Behavior. Behavior. Behavior. Behavior. Behavior. TREAT!
An email essentially becomes a dog treat. Still with me?
It’s not hard to see how this could distracting enough to affect your real-life interactions and productivity.
“Dad said I can’t wear foil antennas and stick my fork in a socket while standing in that puddle of water. Can I pleeeeeeeease?”
“Sure honey, eat your lunch first.”
So, how do we stop?
Not unlike AA and other 12-Step programs the article suggests that the first step to stopping this behavior is recognizing that you’re doing it. Honestly, even after reading that article (before I was forced phone-less last week) I didn’t realize how often I was checking my phone in the course of a day. I think being aware of this has helped some, because it now seems I’m not mindlessly looking at it ad nauseum for no conscious reason. Now, I just check my phone somewhere in the vicinity of 40 times a day and think about checking it, but stop myself, an additional 35.
Baby steps, right?
Anyone else finding themselves checking their phone for no reason other than pure compulsive behavior?
Quote from hilarious Oatmeal Comic.