A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

21 Signs You’re Way Too Addicted to Your Phone

The first step is admitting you have a problem.


You check the time, then immediately forget

We’ve all been there. You open your screen to check what time it is, then forget as soon as it goes dark again, and have to look once more. You’re so used to glancing at your phone that it becomes a habit, rather than an actual way to gain information. Make sure you’re not committing one of these 10 cell phone etiquette sins.

iStock/Paolo Cipriani

Your phone is your security blanket

You’re waiting for your meeting to start, so instead of making small talk with your coworkers, you stare intently at your phone, going through those unimportant emails you’d purposely ignored before. Quit turning to your phone during awkward situations, and boost your confidence by forcing yourself to work the room. Those face-to-face interactions will be way more satisfying than scrolling through Twitter. Here’s how to get over phone addiction.


Your phone is always on you

Of course you wouldn’t be so rude as to start texting when you’re out for dinner, but you still leave your phone in your pocket or on the table (it’s on silent, though!) where you can see it. Separation anxiety could be a major sign you should take a break from your relationship with your screen. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, after all. These 8 things are always killing your smartphone battery.

istock/Eugenio Marongiu

You lose track of time scrolling

You’d pulled up your phone to look up one quick thing, and suddenly you’ve wasted half an hour scrolling deep into your Twitter feed. Set a timer to limit screen time if you find yourself getting (and staying) distracted easily. Turning off notifications and these other tricks could make you more productive.

iStock/Catherine Lane

You always carry your charger

Don’t blame a poor battery for your phone’s short life. If it’s already drained halfway through the day, you’re probably spending more time than you think on battery-sucking apps. Leave the screen black so it doesn’t have to work so hard to keep up with your demands.


“Low battery” gives you a heart attack

Just because your phone hits 20 percent doesn’t mean you’re about to be left lost and abandoned with no way to reach family and friends. Resist the urge to run for your charger or ask everyone around you if you can borrow one, and take it as a sign that you should take a breather from your screen.

istock/Martin Dimitrov

You keep checking for notifications

No, you didn’t feel your phone vibrate, but you still double check to make sure you didn’t miss a message in the ten minutes since you last looked. Sorry, but that’s just wishful thinking. Here are 11 phone battery myths you have to stop believing.


Phantom vibrations haunt you

Convincing yourself you felt your phone vibrate when it never went off could be your mind looking for an excuse to check your phone. Say no to the temptation to address every notification immediately.


You’re a distracted driver

We know you know not to look down at your phone when you’re behind the wheel. Yes, even at red lights. Yes, even in long, straight stretches. In the five seconds it takes to send a text, your car could have traveled the length of a football field. We promise your friend can wait the 15 minutes until you get home for your answer. Here are the 8 places you should never keep your phone.


You still don’t know the way to your favorite store

“In 250 feet, turn right.” How did we ever get around without an all-knowing voice telling us the way? Unfortunately, your phone’s GPS could also make it harder to remember directions on your own. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied found that participants who used a GPS that reoriented with the subject were able to find their destination more easily, but were less likely to remember landmarks than those who used a map.


You think about life in terms of social media

Yes, your perfect swirl of soft serve would make a stunning food-in-the-air Instagram post. But it’s also melting down your arm while your ice cream parlor outing turns into an over-the-top photo shoot. Lock the moment to memory by enjoying the time with your family, rather than documenting every second. These are the 13 ways your cell phone affects your body and mind.


Your phone is the first and last thing you see every day

People often get married so they can wake up to their spouse every day. But a screen does not give those same cuddly feelings as your partner. The bright light your phone gives off could trigger alertness that keeps you wide-eyed, even after you’ve tossed it on your bedside table.


Answering texts makes you late

Let’s be honest—you’d probably have gotten out the door faster if you weren’t constantly updating your friend on how “soooo sorry” you were about losing track of the time but “leaving in 5, don’t hate me :(”. Leave your phone down as you’re prepping, then send one quick text with your ETA before heading out. These 8 texting habits are really annoying.


Your phone is in your hand, not your pocket

Leaving your phone out when you’re walking around, rather than stashing it in a bag or pocket preps you to immediately pull it up for every random Google opportunity your wandering mind comes up with. (Where is that new hibachi place your sister mentioned again?) Tuck it away unless it needs your immediate attention, like checking directions or updating a friend on your arrival time.


You set every reminder in your phone

You came to the store for eggs, milk, and…what was that last item? Relying on your phone to tell you everything sets you up to forget how to remember by yourself. Use these 7 tricks to lower your cell phone bill.


You use two screens at once

A relaxing Netflix binge was supposed to be your activity for the evening, yet your eyes are off the TV and instead checking out that cat video your Facebook friend just posted. Feeling the need to distract yourself even from entertainment is a sure sign you can’t stand time away from your phone.

istock/Stephen Krow

You hate unanswered questions

Arguing about who’s right used to be half the fun of conversations. Not so when you immediately pull up Google, putting a quick stop to any friendly debate. Consider whether finding out the exact date Michael Jackson died is really as interesting as reminiscing about what you were doing when you heard the news. Here are 12 genius uses for old cellphones.

iStock/Petar Chernaev

You need to make agreements for phone-free time

You were so proud of yourself for following through on your pact to spend your entire coffee date off your phones. But if your go-to habit is ignoring those around you in favor of your BFF Siri, it might be time to make zero-screen interactions a general rule.


Your phone is your bathroom reader

Chances are, you don’t really need to pull out your phone during every potty break. When even the bathroom isn’t a place to get screen time relief, you might be addicted.


You choose your outfits based on phone size

You almost fell in love with that pair of jeans at the store—until you realized the pockets were too small to hold your phone. Wean off your phone instead of letting it control your purchases. Or at least bring a wristlet into the equation so you have it on hand.


You’re reading this on your phone

Would a bigger screen be easier to read? Probably. Reading through an article on your phone likely means one of two things: You could be on the go and had to fill an empty moment with screen time, or you’re sitting around the house and felt like scrolling through your phone be less of a time suck than pulling out your laptop. Either way, there’s a good chance you’re hooked. Next, check out these 17 hidden iPhone hacks you never knew existed.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.