When the entire world is at your fingertips, the temptation to never let it out of your sight is understandable.
Life-altering online advancements like GPS location software, social media connections, Candy Crush and an unending supply of Fail GIFs are available to us whenever we want, wherever we want. It’s an amazing time to be alive when anyone can watch this “Thanks Obama” clip on an endless loop while they wait in line at Starbucks.
Recent research has confirmed that cell phone “addiction” is actually a real thing. Professionals have even devised methods of determining if you suffer from a psychological condition that warrants actual medical intervention (symptoms include: reduction of competing behaviors, engaging in the behavior despite risks and negative consequences, withdrawal, etc.). But even if you’re not neurologically dependent on playing Kim Kardashian’s iPhone game for a few moments while you’re pumping gas, there still may be ways to determine that you are spending too much time looking at your phone.
Here’s a list to help.
1. You Look at Your Phone While You’re Bored at Church
Even the best pastors have off days. And, let’s just be honest here, it’s easy to let your mind drift on Sunday mornings from time to time. But a sermon is no time to be checking Twitter.
2. You Use Your Phone as a Crutch in Socially Awkward Situations
We’ve all been there: You show up at a party before the rest of your friends, and you don’t know anybody. Instead of attempting to meet new friends, you pull out your phone and pretend you are texting someone something really important. Next time, try keeping the phone in your pocket and do what they did in the old days: mingle.
3. All of Your Alone Time is Spent on Your Phone
If every moment of solitude, waiting at a restaurant, bathroom break or evening by yourself is filled with browsing the Internet or playing phone games, you may want to cut back.
4. You Consistently Have Zero New Items in Your Facebook Newsfeed
Yup, you’re checking Facebook too much.
5. It’s the Last Thing You See Before Bed, and the First Thing You Look in the Morning
Besides avoiding some negative health effects, it’s probably a good practice to give yourself a little time before bed and when you wake up before checking your email. Pray, talk to your spouse, read—whatever you do, stay unplugged for a few minutes and enjoy some moments of non-digital life.
6. You Check for Social Media Updates at Traffic Lights
If every red light is simply an excuse to look at something on your phone, you are walking the (literally) dangerous tightrope of texting and driving. Trust us, that’s never a good idea.
7. Airplane Mode Induces Anxiety
If a flight attendant asks that you place your phone in airplane mode, and you consider defying FAA regulations so as not to end a text conversation, miss a Twitter update or continue to play an online game, you might have a problem.
This article has been updated from an original version that ran in July 2014.
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.