20 Years after I first got online I find chronic dependency is a bigger problem than online addiction. Before broadband and smartphones in particular, Internet was limited to your office or your home. Now it’s in your pocket, and it’s always-on!

In 2012 my HTC smart phone was stolen in a guest house, and I recall the withdrawal symptoms vividly. After a few months I replaced it because the apps were so “useful” I could not live without them. In September 2013 I moved to China with a phone and wanted to try and live without one. Within a week I realised it was going to be extremely difficult and purchased a cheap Chinese branded smart phone, Fadar.

Top 10 Signs of Smartphone Addiction

  1. Phantom Vibration Syndrome: Walking around with your smartphone in your pocket, your bag or elsewhere virtually ensures you will be checking it frequently. You imagine your handset vibrating and don’t want to miss the call or text message the moment it comes in. This is especially severe when you move between silent, meeting and normal mode.
  2. Battery Low:  You have your favourite gadget with you but you’re powerless to use it. Maybe you left your charger at home, maybe you’re travelling and won’t return home for a few hours longer than anticipated. Either way you cannot use a dead phone, so you keep rubbing it like it’s Aladdin’s lamp, wishing for the genie to emerge and grant you a new wish.
  3. Which Apps? – A journalist recently claimed to have over 200 apps installed on his phone. Having so many applications on your phone can certainly fill up your screen in the same way your Laptop’s desktop fills up with icons. The app stores are exploding with free and paid apps, and there’s seems no limit the variety.
  4. Sleeping with Smartphones: Many people fall asleep chatting on the phones or listening to music. I’ve always used my phones as alarm clocks. In recent times my sleeping pattern have become more erratic as a I depend on my Smartphone to relax after a stressful day.
  5. Smile You’re on Candid Camera: Smartphones are replacing digital cameras, in the same way digital cameras replaced the previous film-based cameras. Use of Instagram and photo sharing websites confirms the importance of good smartphone cameras. It’s really hard to beat the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphones for superior Megapixels. Now I wonder, do they still ban people from using smartphones in your local gym?
  6. Predictive Text: People are typing faster than ever before. However, children developed their own short hand by developing what we used to call sms language or MXit words. Predictive text is my salvation because I still prefer to use full words and proper English where possible.
  7. Forget Me Not: When you forget your Smartphone at home and you go back to collect it in peak hour traffic. Many people have experienced this strong opposition to spending an entire day without their smartphones. They will rather make the sacrifice of wasting 1-2 hours in traffic to go back home and get their most valuable piece of technology in the world.
  8. Not enough memory: As you install more and more apps on your phone, you also save more music, videos and photos, you are bound to run into the limitations of 8-16-32GB on your SDcard. More and more people are moving towards the cloud for their saving grace – no pun intended.
  9. Voice message not voice mail: Since I started using Wechat I started I find myself receiving and sending short audio messages. Even though this was available on Whatsapp, I hardly used it. When I used MXit in the past it was something cute but not used very often. People are making less voice calls, leaving fewer and fewer voice mails, but voice messages are on the increase.
  10. No Signal: This is no longer as big a problem as it used to be. Even in the most remote areas you can get a signal. Someone told me that even in on Mt Everest you can get some kind of signal because a cell tower was installed in 2010.

Anyway in the last five years of using smartphones I’ve had ups and downs, thrills and shills. Post a comment with anything you’ve experienced that