Screen Escape is your guide to managing your screen addiction. As with any addiction the first step is to admit that you have an addiction and that this addiction is a problem.

You are suffering from screen addiction if you spend more time looking at screens that you would like to and you feel that this is beginning to affect other aspects of your life. Most commonly this is a problem with smartphones, but equally possible with tablets, laptops and other devices.

An article this week in the Atlantic asks Have Smartphones destroyed a Generation, in which it is argued that smartphones are causing a mental health crisis in today’s adolescents. They are more connected, but also more lonely and depressed that ever. They socialize less than previous generations but feel much more FOMO from exposure to the excessive documentation from social occasions.

Sherry Turkle in Reclaiming Conversation documents the loss of the ability for children to build empathy due to decreasing levels of real face-to-face human-to-human interaction. Additionally young children can’t get the attention of their parents who are too distracted by their phones.

The UK’s Children’s Commissioner has urged parents to intervene in their children’s social media bingeing over the summer holidays comparing the excessive use to junk food.

Even if you don’t have children there are significant problems to having a screen addiction. Here are a few symptoms you may recognise in yourself:

  • sleeping less than you need due to excessive screen use in bed.

  • losing track of a conversation when a friend needs you due to notifications or messages on a screen.

  • walking into someone or something as you read/write into your phone while walking around.

  • lack of focus in your thoughts, jolting moments when you look up from your screen and try to remember what you are trying to do.

  • replying to someone in the same room as you without having heard the question because you are too engrossed in your screen.

  • panicking when your screen runs out of battery and make the instant priority finding anyone who can charge it for you.

  • opening apps that notify you of new messages even when there is no indication of a new message just to check if maybe the notification failed.

  • paying for roaming even if it is expensive because you can’t live without it on holiday.

  • excusing yourself from social situations to go to the bathroom regardless of if you need it to give yourself private time to spend with your screen.

  • scrolling through websites or switching apps faster than you can read anything as you realise there is nothing new on your screen to look at.

  • never feeling bored or day dreaming because the screen always has something to distract your mind.

The internet and modern consumer electronics technology have revolutionised almost ever industry on Earth. They are not negative things. However we are susceptible to becoming addicted to our screens and we must admit this so we can act to avoid its impacts.

And in this way regain control of our lives.