HEALTH

Smartphone addictions: Is it real?

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Walking down the streets of D.C., it’s hard to see anyone who doesn't have a smart phone in their hands.

“I use it all the time, I love it,” said smartphone user Jennifer Francois.

But is it all too much? Are we obsessed with our phones...or even addicted? Some mental health experts say yes.

“I believe it’s very real,” said Dr. Gregory Jantz, the author of #Hooked.

Dr. Jantz is Executive Director of a mental health treatment facility outside of Seattle. He also authored #Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology and Social Media, and says that based on his research, the addiction is very real.

“About 60 percent of us Americans say that if we're not connected to our devices we develop anxiety symptoms,” Jantz said.

The medical term is disconnect anxiety. The symptoms? Sweaty palms, insomnia, dizziness and depression.

It didn't take long to find local people who say they know this feeling all too well.

“It wasn't even lost I just didn't know where it was. It’s like a small child. You almost panic for a second then you find it,” said smartphone user Lauren Lewis.

“I left my phone for a matter of an hour and I just didn't feel right. It was a sense of helplessness almost. Like you need it,” said smartphone user Rahn Johnson.

Dr. Jantz says most people check their iPhone, Blackberry or Driod an average of 34 times a day.

“We found one individual who came to us for help was doing six to seven thousand texts a day,” Dr. Jantz said.

“I don't know percentage wise, but I would be 100percent lost without it. That's for sure,” Francois said.

Francois knows she's probably missing some valuable human interaction...but says the benefits of her smartphone outweigh the negatives.

Her mother feels otherwise.

“I see people sitting in a restaurant each person is on their smart phone,” said Terri Malolepsy, adding “I think it’s gotten a little bad.”

Like any other addiction, Dr. Jantz says disconnect anxiety affects can affect you both at work and at home. He suggests users take a break to detox one day a week - he says it's about controlling your phone, not letting your phone control you.

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