THE BLOG
15/05/2014 11:30 BST | Updated 10/07/2014 06:59 BST

Is Your Smartphone Ruining Your Relationship?

My name is Cynthia, and I am a self-confessed addict. I have an addiction to my smartphone. It's the first thing I look at in the morning, and the last thing at night, and I just can't function without it. So much so, that my hubby has suggested I seek rehab as he simply no longer wishes to compete with it!

But I'll admit, it has not been easy. Just like the majority of the nation, I use my smartphone for every aspect of my life. I use it to organise my calendar, social media, apps for virtually everything, news, weather, online shopping, pictures, music, film, blogs, you name it. I've even written an entire article on my phone one night in bed, just because it was ..there. "You are addicted to looking at your phone," says the hubby, "what about family time?" I was just about to joke and ask him to send me the app for that, but judging by the unimpressed look on his face, I decided against it. "I'm a writer, it's the nature of my job to read topical, hot debates online, and browse other important erm.....things.." My denial wasn't even fooling myself.

I can't help myself. It's so easy to go from checking a work email, to clicking unrelated links (ASOS 50% off sale), watching a YouTube clip, or scrolling through someone else's Facebook pictures, that quite frankly, you have no business doing while watching a movie with your other half. (I hold my hands up!) And god forbid if you're out in the real world and the battery is running low! For some, everything falls apart and the desperate need to find a charger or search high and low in any public domain for a plug socket can be quite alarming. A friend of mine even went so far as to ask a waiter to charge his dead phone in their staff room for 15 minutes! But our obsession doesn't stop there. Another friend of mine had a disastrous first date with a lady who was more interested in providing a running-commentary of her wonderful date on twitter, and taking Instagram pictures of every dish to come to the table. Needless to say, he didn't see her again despite another invitation from her. "I'll Instagram a picture of me", was his dry response.

While the idea of 24/7 smartphone addiction seems laughable if not, ludicrous, this can be a serious problem. According to research, the term nomophobic (that's 'nomo' as in 'no mobile') was coined after a YouGov survey revealed that nearly 53% of British mobile phone users feel anxious when they "lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage". Similarly, research from Versapak, 41% of Britons feel anxious and not in control when detached from their smartphone or tablet and 51% admitted to suffering from "extreme tech anxiety" at one time or another.

Hardly surprising, considering that we heavily depend on technology these days, and having everything available to us at a touch of a button. So, what can one do to curb their smartphone addiction so that it doesn't completely crash your relations?

I will embark on these self-imposed steps to rehabilitation: (without going 'cold turkey')

1. Visiting times: Set aside times in the day just to check emails and browse your favourite apps. A strict timeframe policy should mean that you can balance your free time without completely ignoring others.

2. Quiet time: Switch the phone off (gasp in horror) or leave the phone at home (double gasp) while you go out for a few hours with loved ones or friends to just enjoy quality time without the distraction of a bleep! (Just remember that you actually left it at home, before frantically searching your handbag like a crazed woman).

3. Include the person you're with: Rather than just chuckling to yourself whilst engrossed in your phone, (right next to somebody), why not include them in whatever has caught your attention. Whether it's a social media debate or a hilarious video link. At least the other person won't feel like a spare part!

With these in mind, let's see how my smartphone rehab goes, and if it can salvage the human relationships I have. If there is anyone else out there who can empathise, you are most certainly not alone, all it takes is a great deal of self-discipline. I'll tweet you all, and Instagram my progress!