Is Your Smartphone Ruining Your Life?

In a recent survey 40 percent of those polled said they'd rather stop brushing their teeth than give up their iPhones

Do you have an unhealthy relationship with your cell phone? Even if you say no, the answer is probably yes (Denial is often the first sign of addiction).

A recent Harvard Business School study says most of us have risky attachments to our phones that could be hurting our work, relationships and health.

A survey earlier this year found that iPhone users -- and there are a lot of us out there -- are the worst kind of junkies. Forty percent said they would rather give up brushing their teeth than part with their iPhone. Forty-three percent said they would go shoeless before going iPhone-less. And 66 percent of us admitted that we sleep next to our smart phones.

What’s so wrong with that, you ask? It smacks of dependency!

In addition to the calls and texts that deprive us of sleep, keeping our cell phone bedside may disrupt our sleep-wake cycle. The light filtering into our eyes tells us it’s daytime, even when it’s not, and our body suddenly has no idea when it’s supposed to power down for some shuteye.

Besides, when studies every other day go back and forth about whether having our phone glued to our head 24-7 may or may not cause cancer, we might want to institute some time away from our phone.

Journalist and professor Susan Maushart was so tired of her three teens interacting more with their gadgets than each other (they all sat in the same room together and never talked) that she made everyone in the house go tech-free for six months. Now, she challenges her students to unplug for 48 hours and keep a journal about it. What she finds most fascinating is the levels of anxiety that come with it. You can’t text your friend to see if she’s at the party yet. You can’t check Facebook 20 times an hour. If you’re lost, you can’t look up directions. You can’t even check the weather to see if it’s going to rain today. (I’m going into withdrawals just thinking about it).

Then again, if anything that I depended on every day were taken away from me -- my car, running water, my refrigerator, heck, even my coffee -- I would likely have a hard time adjusting to life without it. And I’d probably be very unhappy about it. Does that mean I’m dependent on my smart phone and it’s ruining my life? Why does it have to be either or? In some ways, spending all that time on my phone probably does detract from my relationships and quality of life, but in some ways, it definitely makes them better. At least I keep up with people.

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