Guest article: “Apple and Google as Cyber Nannies: Trying to Curb Phone Addiction”

This guest article was written by Charles Watson

While the United States is dealing with an opioid crisis, there’s another creeping issue that is being overlooked: phone addiction. No civilization before the internet has had such easy access to a wealth of information. But there’s an ugly side — when the first iPhone was introduced into the market in 2007,

nobody should have been surprised that millions of people would become hooked to their gadgets. Web access was already easy, but iPhones made it even easier. While people often find the best drug rehabilitation facility for those dealing with substance abuse, only a few are really seeking professional help for their phone addiction.

Touching your smartphone 2,600 times a day? You’re not alone

Research by DSCOUT revealed that the average user touches his or her phone 2,617 times a day. Those who are addicted are already hitting double that number. The number is significant considering that more than 9 in 10 of American adults between the ages of 18 and 29 own a smartphone.

According to a survey by Deloitte, 47% of people recognized that their phone usage was already worrying and so took steps to limit the number of hours they spend on their gadgets. The experiment only worked for 30% of them. As the survey showed, 8 in 10 of the smartphone owners check their phone before to sleep and after they wake up, and almost 9 in 10 check their phones even when their attention should be focused on friends and family.

Apple recognizes the problem and so will unveil a new app that will hopefully curb the phone addiction. The company gave a peak of the “Digital Health” feature during the Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June this year.

Apple will usually take advantage of WWDC to announce new innovations that will encourage people into using more their gadgets in the Apple inventory. This includes the iPhone, Apple TV, the Apple Watch, and Mac. Last June’s event was a drastic turnaround for Apple. Instead of finding new ways to get Apple users glued to their devices, the company wants them to look away and smell some of the roses.

Android P

Apple is not the only one trying to curb the time spent on gadgets. Google will also introduce to Android the “Digital Wellness” into the next iteration of the flagship software. Codenamed Android P, parents will have more control over the amount of time their kids are glued to their devices. On the app dashboard, they can set a limit to the time their children use their phones daily. You can set the time for YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram. When the time is up, the app itself is no longer usable or the day.

If that sounds too drastic, another option is for the parents to remotely monitor the amount of time their children spend on their phone. They can also find out which among the apps are used frequently by the user. With this, you can lay down the ground rules.

Symptoms of Cell Phone Addiction

If you ever suspect that your kids are already addicted to their phones, look for the following symptoms.

1. They check their phones before going to sleep and after waking up
2. They spend hours and hours glued to their devices
3. Their mood shifts when they don’t have their phones with them
4. They can’t engage in long conversations without checking their phones
5. They become angry when they get separated from their phones for hours
6. They can’t cut back on phone usage even if you threaten them with punishment
7. They turn to their cell phone when they are feeling sad or depressed
8. They engage in risky behavior (checking their phone while driving)
9. They feel the urge to immediately check notifications or respond to messages
10. They become withdrawn, preferring the gadget over social interaction

The new initiatives by both Apple and Google are worth commending. Americans are already glued to their phones at least five hours per day. Most of the symptoms associated with cell phone addiction are similar to alcohol and drug addiction. Similarly, most of the treatment methods adopted by a great drug rehab facility will also work on the addicted individual.

Guest author

Charles Watson is a health and addiction freelance writer. If you don’t catch him a Detroit Tigers game, you will see him reading updated material from his favorite author Tim Ferriss. Currently he writes for He can be reached directly on Twitter at @charleswatson00

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