Break Free From Toxic Device Addiction Now!

Woman curled up in a chair looking at a phone

Dear Selfless Esteem,
I think me and my whole family are addicted to our phones. We constantly check our phones, scroll through social media, and watch endless videos. We look at each other’s posts more than we actually communicate even though we live together. How can we stop being addicted to our devices?
Screen Eyes

Dear Screen Eyes,

Thanks for bringing up this common problem. Many people easily become dependent on their phone because it facilitates social interactions, school assignments, meetings, and schedules. 📱

Signs of Device Addiction

VeryWell Health’s article, “Phone Addiction: What You Need to Know,” by Angelica Bottaro explains that although the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) doesn’t identify this behavior as an addiction, cell phone use resembles addiction because it stimulates the production and release of dopamine, which causes feelings of pleasure.

Borrato states, “A person with a phone addiction will have difficulty staying off their phone and could lose interest in things they once enjoyed because of excessive phone use. Those most at risk of developing a phone addiction are teens and young adults. Signs of phone addiction include feeling irritable or negative when going without a phone, being unable to go without a phone for long periods of time, or using a phone so much that it negatively affects physical health or mental health.”

Effects of Device Addiction

Overuse of devices can cause stress, ergonomic problems, and a shorter attention span over time.

In The Know by Yahoo interviewed mental health and addiction expert Dr. Paul Daidone and quotes his statements on the effects of device addiction. “‘The most common side effects of tech overuse include sleep disturbances due to light stimulation from the device, headaches caused by straining your eyes for long periods of time, neck pain resulting from poor posture, and general physical fatigue from overuse of the device. Long-term tech overuse can lead to problems with mental health, such as increased stress levels, decreased attention spans, social isolation due to less face-to-face interaction with others, as well as an increased risk of developing ADHD-like symptoms (such as lack of focus and acclimation to fragmented information.)’”

Breaking Device Addiction

To decrease use, first think about what needs your devices are fulfilling. Then, you can consider how to meet those needs without it. For example, if you’re using it to connect with others, then meet in person whenever possible. See “How To Handle Social Events Better” for inspiration and preparation.

Woman in a yoga pose

Sometimes, people use devices to escape reality. I recommend finding a competent therapist to help resolve any problems you may be avoiding and take steps to break the addiction. (See “Why You Need To Get A Therapist ASAP” and “What Is Wise Counsel and Good Therapy?”) For healthy alternatives to phone use, see “6 Effective Ways To Manage Stress”–and be sure to turn off your phone notifications while practicing some of the techniques.

Also, people sometimes use devices to distract them from their negative thoughts. Again, I recommend therapy. Additionally, talking to God about your thoughts and asking Him for help can bring peace of mind. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). (See “How To Pray in 5 Simple Steps.” You may also be interested in “Defeat Self-Criticism,” “The Real Truth About God,” and “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem.”)

In general, the goal is to replace screen time with other hobbies. An accountability partner, who demonstrates unconditional positive regard, can help you meet that goal. (You may be interested in “4 Things To Remember When You’ve Lost Interest in Old Hobbies.”)

For more info, see “How Do I Stop Wasting Time on My Digital Device?” by Grace Murphy of And as you adjust to this new lifestyle, you may even find yourself preferring hands-free moments! 🤲

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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  1. TC

    Important topic! It does seem to be becoming a major issue in today’s society. I loved that you mentioned meeting in person when possible. Nothing can duplicate the bond that spending quality time face to face creates. I would also suggest taking an inventory of all social media accounts and asking themselves, “Do I really need to be on all of these platforms when they essentially perform the same functions?”

    1. Gina Leggio

      Thanks for your comment. That’s a good question to ask, especially since time spent on social media can easily become excessive.

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