Mobile addiction, signs and symptoms

Robert Johnston
Mobile addiction, signs and symptoms

Aggression, bad mood, isolation, abandonment of studies and social environment. These are some of the symptoms of mobile phone addiction.

Mobile addiction can develop in a very few months since the pleasure is immediate and the biochemical changes in the brain are the basis of the psychological ones..


  • Signs and symptoms of mobile addiction
  • Physical effects of addiction
    • Digital visual strain
    • Neck problems
    • Increased illness due to germs
    • Traffic accidents
    • Male infertility
  • Psychological effects of cell phone addiction
    • Sleep disorders
    • Depression
    • Obsessive compulsive disorder
    • Relationship problems
    • Anxiety
  • The young are the most likely
  • Are you addicted to mobile?
  • The other cyberadictions
    • References

Signs and symptoms of mobile addiction

Although mobile phone addiction is not yet listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), research has compared it to gambling addiction, which has clearer diagnostic criteria and is included in the DSM -V.

At least 4 of the following signs and symptoms are believed to comprise the criteria for mobile addiction, and problematic phone use must cause significant harm to the person's life:

  • A need to use the mobile more and more often to achieve the same desired effect.
  • Repeated failed attempts when trying to use the mobile less frequently.
  • Concern about using the phone.
  • You experience unwanted feelings such as anxiety or depression when you cannot use your mobile.
  • Excessive mobile use characterized by loss of sense of time.
  • You have put a relationship or job at risk due to excessive mobile use.
  • Tolerance.
    • Need to have a newer mobile, with more applications or more data.
  • When the cell phone or network is not available it presents:
    • Anger.
    • Tension.
    • Depression.
    • Irritability.
    • Restlessness.

Physical effects of addiction

Excessive mobile phone use can lead to a number of different physical problems that can cause permanent damage or be difficult to treat, such as:

Digital visual tension

  • Pain and discomfort associated with watching a digital screen for more than 2 hours.
  • Eyes start to burn and sting.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Eye fatigue.
  • Headaches.

Neck problems

  • Also known as "text neck," which refers to neck pain that results from looking down at your phone or tablet for too long.

Increased illness due to germs

  • 1 in 6 mobiles has fecal matter.
  • E. coli bacteria, which can cause fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, are found in many phones.
  • Phones have been found to be contaminated with MRSA (methicicline-resistant staph aureus), which causes painful abscesses and life-threatening infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, bloodstream, heart valves, and lungs.

Traffic accidents

  • Many people believe that they can multitask and use their phones while driving, but this causes significant impairment and endangers the driver and others on the road..
  • Research has revealed that Texting and driving can be as dangerous as drinking and driving.

Male infertility

  • Preliminary studies have revealed that mobile phone radiation can decrease sperm count, motility, and viability..

Psychological effects of cell phone addiction

Sleep disorders

Mobile addiction has been linked to an increase in sleep disturbances and fatigue in users. Using your phone before bed increases the likelihood of insomnia because:

  • Bright light can decrease the quality of sleep.
  • Smartphone use could increase the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
  • The light emitted by the cell phone can activate the brain.


The isolation that the mobile can generate by not interacting face to face on a regular basis with other people, generates loneliness and feelings of hopelessness.

Obsessive compulsive disorder

Addicted people present compulsive acts of continually checking their mobile in case they have received messages or news of some kind, or for compulsive gambling. They also show obsessive thoughts about the need to be connected, who writes to them, who doesn't, etc..

Relationship problems

Offline relationships can suffer as a result of neglect in favor of excessive mobile and social media use.


Research has found that young people who use their cell phones the most are more likely to feel anxious during downtime.

The young are the most likely

Unlike other addictions, such as alcoholism or gambling, the age of onset is very low, from twelve years, due to, among other causes, the easy access that minors have to this communication system and also because there is no rejection effect, but quite the opposite, on the part of society to its use.

In this case it is not a substance but the link is behavioral. It is an irrepressible, uncontrollable and exaggerated behavior that displaces other activities and the addiction to the mobile underlies what in any other dependency of this type: An immature character, insecurity in oneself, instability and communication difficulties. The object, the cell phone in this case, is a substitute for the personality plots that are in deficit. The pleasure principle beats the reality principle.

Without great differences between the two sexes, they are more common in unstructured families, which leads to a deprivation of affection, it is also linked to school or love failure. In short, there are negative feelings towards oneself, frustration, dislike of one's own way of being; which leads the addict to have difficulties to relate and is hidden in the mobile, the 'chat' provides anonymity, supplements inhibitions.

Paradoxically, the communication addict reaches isolation, this situation creates a special character seasoned with anxiety about calling or receiving messages. The dependence on the mobile is brutal and lack of coverage or suffer a blackout, creates a real chaos among addicts.

Are you addicted to mobile?

1. The phone is your main means of communicating with your friends, what do you keep using it for when you have them by your side? It is becoming more and more frequent to see a group of kids each with their mobile in their hand and without talking to each other..

2. You are never separated from the phone. You take it to the bathroom, during lunch, in front of the television, at family gatherings ...

3. You go from a feeling of discomfort to another of well-being depending on whether or not you have a mobile phone nearby. In many cases, you get nervous if it doesn't show up. Nervousness that ceases when finding the terminal.

4. Your sleep habits have changed. Are you in front of the screen and can't find time to go to sleep? Do you perceive that they sleep little and badly? Is it difficult for you to get up in the morning?

5. You suffer the Effect of Distance, you are at home or with your friends, but it is as if you are not there, the quantity and quality of communication with siblings and parents has decreased alarmingly. Although this phenomenon is typical of adolescence and is difficult to measure according to what ages.

6. You spend many hours staring at the small screen. There is no set number of hours from which it can be said that there is a pathological use of the telephone, but the experts give a clue. What things are you not doing because you are looking or interacting on your mobile? Watching television, playing games, studying or abandoning other obligations.

Measure your level of mobile addiction with this test

The other cyberadictions

The mobile phone is not the only technology that can be abused until it becomes a problem. The Internet and its contents, as well as video games, also have their risks.

"The Internet per se is not addictive, although some of its contents can be," says Lourdes Ventura, a psychiatrist and one of the promoters of the Internet Addicts project. He also wants to clarify that, as in the case of drugs, "the problem is within the person, not outside".

When making a profile of the Internet addict, differentiate between young people and adults. In the former, between the ages of 14 and 25, the addiction can be considered mild. "Although it is where you have to influence more," he warns. And it must be done so as not to reach the pathological uses that it has seen in adults..

As for video games, there are no conclusive studies that affirm their dangerousness. But remember that while the Internet and mobile phones are not designed to reinforce compulsive behaviors, video games are. Therefore, adults are recommended to supervise the games of young people, especially the most problematic ones..


  1. Mobile technology data sheet. (2013, December 27). Retrieved on November 30, 2015, from
  2. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-V. (5th ed.). (2013). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
  3. Singh Bhatia, M. (2008). Cell phone dependency: a new diagnostic entity. Delhi Psychiatry Journal, 11 (2), 123-124. Retrieved on November 30, 2015, from
  4. Digital Eye Strain Report 2015. (2015). Retrieved on November 30, 2015, from

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