Breaking up with your iPhone

I admit it: I am an iPhone addict. But while I’m writing this blog post I am looking at my roommates: one watching television while texting her hockey friend; the other one sitting on the stairs fighting with her boyfriend; and the last one studying, like me, while checking her iPhone every minute or so. The only one really focusing on what she is doing seems to be the one fighting…

Now I would like to ask you to think about this: how many times a day do you check your smartphone? To check how many likes you got on that picture you uploaded 15 minutes ago? Or who sent you a message over Whatsapp?

The age of the smartphone started in 2007, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone 1. His words, “This will change everything”, did not go in vain. Now, eight years down the line this invention did indeed change everything: from our personal lives to our interpersonal relationships; from the way we do business to the way we do our groceries. Our smartphone is interweaved in almost every aspect of our lives.

Although the introduction of the smartphone made our lives easier, more comfortable, and more safe in many ways there is also a shadow side: the growing smartphone addiction. Only in Europe more than 50% of the children between 9 and 16 reported overdependence related to their smartphone usage.

Mobile phone usage has been linked to (The Huffington Post, 2012):

  • Stress
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Symptoms of depression

In the report published by Net Children Go Mobile in 2014, almost three out of four children (72%) said to “feel they have to be always available to family and friends”. This social pressure might result into anxiety and stress for the younger generation. Also the “entrapment” of feeling you have to be available 24/7 and reply as soon as you read a message could increase the anxiety among these young children (Net Children Go Mobile, 2014).

It is interesting to see how those small technological devices can have such a substantial impact on our mental, and sometimes even physical, wellbeing. Many of us seem to have come to see them as an extension of who we are. How is it even possible there was a big connection between our heart rate and blood pressure surging when our phone is ringing across the room from us but we can’t reach it (Steinmetz, 2015)?

We are the first generation to grow up digitally native, while these developments show alarming facts about just us, our generation, growing up.

What do you think? Should we break up with our smartphones every once in a while…?

Mascheroni, G., & Cuman, A., (2014). Net Children Go Mobile: Final Report (with country fact sheets). Deliverables D6.4 and D5.2. Milano: Educatt.

Singer, M., (2014). Smartphone addiction among European kids – Market Business News. [online] Market Business News. Available at: [Accessed 26 Sep. 2015].

Steinmetz, K. (2015). Here’s How to Battle Your Smartphone Addiction. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Sep. 2015].

The Huffington Post, (2015). Heavy Technology Use Linked to Fatigue, Stress and Depression in Young Adults. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Sep. 2015].


3 responses to “Breaking up with your iPhone”

  1. 439290dlrotterdam says :

    It’s hard to answer this question in a simple, easy manner. On one hand (as you mention) the use of smartphones has made living easier through the infinite access to sources of knowledge, goods, services and communication. Steve Jobs single handedly changed the lives of billions of people.

    I personally am too attached to my phone but am aware of my actions and time spent. Studies have shown we exhibit physiological symptoms of love towards our phone as your article suggests. I don’t think the question is should we break up with our smartphones, but rather how should we manage ourselves in a growing mobile market?

    The Millenials will be the first of many generations, forced to confront the problem of mobile technology’s: persistence, invasiveness, rapid evolution, complexities etc. It is impossible to break up with it.

  2. 350118ms says :

    Interesting subject you mentioned there. My comment is regarding your point about (symptoms of) depression as the result of smartphone use. I’m wondering what the direction of the relationship between those two things is. Lately an article was posted on “People who often check their phone are more likely to suffer from depression.” Where the title at first suggested the same relation as mentioned in yours, the study upon which it was based suggest a different direction. In “Mobile Phone Sensor Correlates of Depressive Symptom Severity in Daily-Life” researcher confirm the (strong) relation between them, but their study suggests that the depression is the cause of the high-level of smartphone use.

    When the latter is the case, “breaking up with your iPhone”, like you suggested, wouldn’t solve the problem, only a symptom would be eliminated. In fact, a potential indicative factor will be lost. Maybe the solution is not less use of our smartphones as a goal on itself. Instead, since the use of smartphones is totally integrated in our “new” ways of live, the data generated by the (frequent) use of smartphones can be used.

    An underlying question is: Is it appropriate to talk about a smartphone-addiction? The difference between habit and addiction is, according to Christian Nordqvist on, with a habit you are in control of your choices, with an addiction you are not in control of your choices. I think everyone should say for him/herself if it’s a habit or an addiction.


    Saeb S, Zhang M, Karr CJ, Schueller SM, Corden ME, Kording KP, Mohr DC
    Mobile Phone Sensor Correlates of Depressive Symptom Severity in Daily-Life Behavior: An Exploratory Study
    J Med Internet Res 2015;17(7):e175

  3. Martin A. K. says :

    A very important topic you are discussing here! As smartphone usage goes up (currently over 81% of the Dutch population owns a smartphone) it seems to become an issue that affects more and more of us. The issues are new, as is the technology, so not all relationships and effects are fully understood. However, with blog posts as yours and numerous articles discussing the topic, people are picking up on the potential negative side effects of constant smartphone usage.

    A smartphone is a commercial product, built and sold by companies that are trying to make a profit. This makes me wonder if companies will soon look at addressing this issue? Will they see it as an opportunity? In the food retail industry, more and more people are jumping on the heathy and ‘bio’ bandwagon, seeking a healthier lifestyle. Could this also be the case with smartphones in the future? Will people seek to purchase smartphones that least distract, with only the most important communication features present?

    I found an article on theNextWeb regarding such a product. A (smart)phone by Punkt, created to be distraction-free. A designer (smart)phone, with all essential features, security and build quality – just without the distractions.

    Is this the future? Or will we learn to deal with and appreciate the new speed of things?


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