You may be addicted to your smartphone if...

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Morning Zen Guest blogger ~ Amy Williams 

People are increasingly dependent on their handheld devices. In the past ten years, cell phones have become a fashion accessory, communication staple, and boredom buster. However, some researchers believe that Smartphones are becoming addictive to many and impacting users negatively in certain, key ways.

Here is a quick rundown of how invasive Smartphones can be in our daily lives:

The biology of smartphone addiction
The rapid images, messages, and fast-paced apps of a Smartphone create a good feeling in the people who use them, similar to the effects of dopamine. This eventually builds a tolerance to our hyper-connected world, which makes people crave it more and more. This officially becomes an addiction when it impacts a person’s ability to function and they experience withdrawal when their device is removed.

Smartphone addiction is similar to “Internet Use Disorder” and can cause measurable brain changes in a human. This preoccupation with the Internet or a device can impact the cellular connections in the front lobe region which controls attention, judgment, and emotion.

It also changes the dopamine levels in a brain and researchers are beginning to notice that addicts might naturally have genetic variations or compromised dopamine receptors that leave some people more vulnerable to Smartphone or Internet addictions. Like any addiction, Smartphones can alter the way a brain functions.

Signs and symptoms your child has a problem
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine if you or your child’s Smartphone use has crossed the line into addiction territory:

Steering away from smartphone addictions
If you answered the majority of the questions with a “yes”, you might be developing an unhealthy relationship with your Smartphone. Thankfully, there are a few strategies to help weaken the dependence on your devices.

Listed below are a few suggestions to help keep your Smartphone usage from turning into a real problem:

According to the latest research, only 10% of people can truly be classified as Smartphone addicts. Even though the medical community is still debating if Smartphone addiction is a real behavioral addiction, it is agreed that a lot of people might rely heavily on their phones.

This preoccupation might not be a real addiction, but it can be damaging to relationships and negatively influence life.

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amyAmy Williams is a journalist and former social worker, specializing in teen behavioral health. She believes that, in our digital age, it's time for parents and educators to make sure parents and students alike are educated about technology and social media use. You can follow her on Twitter.

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