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Ways to deal with smartphone addiction

Smartphone addiction, a growing concern affecting mental health and relationships, can be mitigated by setting boundaries, practicing mindful usage, seeking support, and fostering offline activities, JUSTICE OKAMGBA writes

We are often glued to our smartphones due to their addictive nature, instant access to information and social connections, fear of missing out, and the habit of seeking constant stimulation and validation in the digital world.

Nearly everyone starts their day by reaching for their smartphones and checking for new messages and emails. This habitual behavior, ingrained in our brains, is a growing concern for many.

A phone user simply Identified as Kudirat is one of those teenagers battling with this challenge. I am addicted to watching TikTok, it has become a daily routine for me, she told The PUNCH.

She explained that the time and amount of data consumed daily just watching videos on TikTok and aimlessly scrolling on Facebook feeds are serious concerns.

Kudirat said, “Once I pick up my phone, the first thing I do is to check if there are messages. Then, I started watching videos. Surprisingly, the amount of time spent watching these videos is just too much.

“When I try to just stop and do other things, I discover I can’t help myself. To be frank, it’s no longer a child’s play. It’s something that I am battling with,” she concluded.

A software Engineer, Ifeanyi Ojukwu told the PUNCH that people are constantly on their phones due to the convenience of instant communication, access to information, social media engagement, and entertainment, although not literally 24 hours but for a significant part of their day.

He said, “To be honest, it’s not easy to stay without touching your smartphones. For instance, techies like us, it’s hard. You are either on your laptop or smartphone carrying out one activity or the other.

“There are times that you have to meet up physically; you become reluctant because you think you can get it done with your smartphone. It’s not easy.”

The implications

According to a recent study, smartphone addiction has widespread adverse effects and females are more susceptible to addiction.

Unrestricted late-night smartphone use has turned out to be a major lifestyle problem these days, and can lead to stress, depression, anxiety, and even more serious complications like daytime somnambulism, and occasional violent outbursts, the study found.

Out of 91 students sampled, 46 students were found to be not addicted, while 45 were addicted to smartphones, as measured by the Smartphone Addiction Scale.

While on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, 17.58 per cent of students were found to be good sleepers, and 82.42 per cent came out to be poor sleepers.

The Country Head of Roche Digital Center, Raja Jamalamadaka explained on LinkedIn how his doctor gave him two weeks to resolve his phone addiction.

Jamalamadaka noted that for nearly 20 years he had a companion that kept him company 24×7 – his smartphone.

What started twenty years ago as a simple phone that could do no more than make calls turned into a monster gadget that grew in smartness with each passing hour.

He said, “Although I cannot say with certainty, I can make an educated guess that my smartness has decreased at the same rate as that at which my smartphone’s increased.

“In the early 2000s, the (fortunately) high tariffs ensured that my phone usage was limited to a few minutes a day.

“As I moved up the corporate ladder, this perhaps increased to an hour. As I graduated to smartphones and social media usage kicked in, the usage probably increased to hours a day.

“With WhatsApp chats and calls thrown in, the phone likely became my companion 24×7. You can see that I am using very tentative words like “probably”, “perhaps”, “very likely”, “Assume” to describe the situation – not just to show my poor read of the progress – but to highlight how slowly, steadily and stealthily my companion grew in significance,” he noted.

There are issues like exhaustion arising when one becomes accustomed to certain things, making it challenging to adapt to the real world, the Chief Executive Officer, Oluseyi Akindeinde said in an interview monitored by The PUNCH.

“Some individuals have reported mental health impacts, emphasizing the need for cautious use. I recall my youth, indulging in video games; allowing a child unrestricted access to games or the internet can significantly influence their psyche”.

He explained that “Continuous exposure, whether to video games or the Internet, can have adverse effects, including time wastage and decreased productivity. It’s essential to approach these technologies mindfully and learn how to utilize them effectively.

“Over-reliance on virtual interactions could potentially lead to increased social isolation. Human beings fundamentally need physical contact and social connections to thrive.

“Balancing virtual interactions with real-world socializing is essential for our overall well-being and fulfillment,” he concluded.

The Managing Director of Damisah Creative Agency, an ICT company, Babayo Damisa noted, “Getting addicted to phones is a global challenge which is hard to combat”.

Damisa said most youths are addicted to their phones, either being on social media or playing games, which might not be educational.

He added that learning from educational apps on phones is good, but most young people spend too much time on social media talking about things that don’t matter for their growth.

According to him, this affects their schoolwork because they use social media language in their studies. It’s a problem that the government and others need to solve to help young people use their phones wisely.

Dealing with smartphone addiction

Experts say technology innovations, like mobile phones, are similar to electricity. If used correctly, they can improve your life. But if used wrongly, they can be harmful, like getting a shock from electricity.

Just as electricity needs insulation to stay safe, with mobile phones, you are responsible for your safety.

According to the Managing Director, Anambra State ICT Agency, Chukweluemeka Agata, “To use gadgets less, make a daily plan and stick to it.”

He advised, “Don’t spend too much time on devices. Do different activities and balance indoor and outdoor time.

“Allocate specific times during the day to disconnect entirely from your smartphone, allowing your mind to unwind and focus on the present moment.”

Ojukwu suggested, “Set limits on screen time and establish tech-free zones in your home, promoting healthier interactions with family and friends.

“Practice mindful smartphone usage by being aware of the time spent on apps and social media. Utilize apps that track your usage and provide reminders.”

Further, he suggested, “Decide not to look at your phone until you finish your morning routine the next day. Do things like exercising, reading, planning, cleaning, or meditating before using your phone. It might be hard at first, but if you keep at it, you’ll avoid the bad effects of phone addiction.”

Breaking smartphone addiction requires conscious effort and the results are evident when one can do so, Jamalamadaka explained.

He noted, “Something happened to me last week of December 2017. I decided enough was enough. I had to act – before my ability to act was lost.

“On January 1, 2018, I deleted most social media apps on my phone. I brought my time on WhatsApp (a professional need) down to 5 minutes a day.

“I stopped taking my phone during my morning walk. I told people to talk to me face-to-face to the extent possible (That request – coming from a phone addict like me – made several of my acquaintances wonder whether my brain was affected).

“I measured my time on the phone – Call duration was reduced from hours a day to minutes a day. ALL late-night calls (personal and professional) were eliminated – some by brute force. Meditation became the last ritual before sleep and the first after getting up,” he said.

After successfully breaking the addiction, Jamalamadaka said his memory improved mysteriously, and “I acknowledged the presence of people around me – looking them in the eye.

“My energy levels shot up enormously and I wake up fresh each morning,” he concluded.


While smartphones offer incredible advantages, being glued to our screens 24/7 comes with its set of challenges.

Recognizing the psychological pull, understanding its impact on social interactions and well-being, and consciously finding a balance can help us navigate the digital landscape mindfully.

By prioritizing meaningful offline experiences and nurturing genuine connections, we can break free from the constant smartphone grip and reclaim moments of genuine human connection in our lives.

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