Are you “actively connected” to your smartphone? That’s the term tech experts use for the 50 percent of us who keep our phones within arm’s reach at least ten hours a day. We have our phone in our pocket or handbag all day, it sits on the dinner table, and 1-in-4 of us check our phones within 5 minutes of waking up! So, when does being “actively connected,” cross the line into a smartphone addiction? Here are the signs:

  • You feel stressed each time you hear a “ding” from your phone. Experts say, if the thought of a single unread text message drives you crazy, that’s a sure sign of compulsive behavior. It’s a problem because each time you drop everything you’re doing to check your phone, you’re making it harder to finish a project, for example, or meet a deadline – which will only add more stress to your life.

  • It’s also a bad sign if you’ve experienced “phantom cellphone syndrome.” That’s the term for when we’re certain we heard our phone ring or felt it vibrate, but when we check, there are no missed calls or messages! A recent Purdue University study found that 89 percent of college students have experienced it!

  • The same goes for FOMO – or the “fear of missing out.” That’s the term for the anxiety some people feel when they can’t use their phone, because all they can think about is the exciting things they’re missing on Facebook or Twitter. Experts say if you’ve ever been sad or anxious about what other people are doing – rather than being focused on what you’re doing – then you need to unplug.

  • You give higher priority to your phone than anything else. Like if you’re at dinner and you can’t focus, because you’re thinking about the text message you have to reply to. Or if the thought of turning your phone off makes you anxious or physically sick.

Experts say if any of these sound like you, then you have an addiction, and you need help. To get you started, we recommend checking out netaddictionrecovery.com.