Excessive Smartphone Use? Warning Signs & Tips for Cutting Back

Did you know that the average American spent 4.2 hours each day on their mobile device in 2021? That’s more than one-third of daily waking hours, and a dangerous health and productivity trend for your employees.

While not all cell phone use is indicative of addiction, it’s important to recognize warning signs and adjust your habits now to avoid negative employment and personal outcomes.

excessive smartphone use

Warning Signs of Excessive Smartphone Use

While smartphones have become a necessity for communication, they create a slippery slope with their convenience for entertainment and a major distraction for staying on task.

Consider the following warning signs that you’ve been using your smartphone to a point that it’s unhealthy:

  • Anger or irritation if phone use is interrupted
  • Dangerous behavior, such as using a smartphone while driving
  • Impaired sleep
  • Isolation from loved ones
  • Poor work performance

Outside of work, experts recommend adults limit their daily screen time to less than two hours per day. But even having your phone accessible during work hours can create productivity and concentration problems.

Impact of Excessive Phone Use

While many aspects of life are so much easier with smartphones, excessive use can have the following impacts on your physical and mental well-being:

  • Changes in brain activity
  • Slower reaction times
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Lower concentration
  • Forgetfulness regarding tasks and goals
  • Increase in stress, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness

Fortunately, there are ways to take control and ensure cell phone use is balanced.

Tips for Cutting Back Smartphone Use

The first step to cutting back on your smartphone use is determining how much time you’re spending on your phone. Most devices have digital well-being features that break down how much time you’re using for calls, texts, emails, social media, and more. Check your stats! You may be surprised to find out how often you’re scrolling or reading on your smartphone.

To build a healthier relationship with your phone, consider the following tips:

  • Set clear boundaries. Instead of constantly being available for work or personal messages, set boundaries. Leave your phone in the car when you’re out for dinner and avoid bringing it to the dinner table with your family. If needed, set up an autoreply “away” message for texts and emails.
  • Turn off notifications. Disable frequent notifications that may interrupt your productivity, such as social media apps or group chats. The constant notifications make it difficult to concentrate and remember where you are when interrupted in the middle of a project.
  • Change your screen to grayscale. Remove colors that make your phone less visually appealing and enticing. You can find this feature in your phone’s display settings.
  • Rearrange your apps. Limit what’s on your home screen and hide tempting apps in a folder. You may even choose to delete certain apps until the weekend.
  • Set time limits for yourself. After you’ve identified your weaknesses, set screen time limits to help you put the phone down when your time expires.
  • Check at specific times. Define specific times for checking your phone notifications, such as your lunch break or every two hours. Turning your volume off or leaving your phone in a separate room to charge until your designated time will help limit distractions.
  • Avoid using before bedtime. Try cutting down phone use in bed or right before sleeping. The bright screen can signal to your body that it’s time to be awake. This may cause problems falling asleep or make you experience lower sleep quality, which carries over to the workplace the next day.
  • Use an old-fashioned alarm clock. If you have a habit of scrolling on your phone when setting, snoozing, or turning off your alarm, you may need to revert to an actual alarm clock.

By making minor adjustments, you can become a more mindful smartphone user, which will lead to higher productivity and more fulfilling work and personal relationships. For more wellness ideas, please contact your Stratus.hr Rep. Not a current client? Please complete the form below and our team will be in touch with you shortly!







    Laura Lancaster, PHR, SHRM-CP

    Author Laura Lancaster, PHR, SHRM-CP

    Along with being a Master of Human Resources, Laura is a master of communicating and provides her clients with world-class customer service. She can really cut some rug on the country swing dance floor and enjoys musical theater in between motorcycle rides.

    More posts by Laura Lancaster, PHR, SHRM-CP