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Heads up, Phones down! Are you addicted to using your phone all the time?

Heads up, phones down!…addiction to your smartphone is a very real thing and in the first part of our two-part series a couple experts explain some of the warning signs that you’re hooked.

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Chairman of psychiatry at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and Corporate Medical Director for Legacy Meridian Health Services with Hackensack-Meridian Health, Dr. Ramon Solhkhah says it’s become more of an issue in recent years…

“Most people don’t even have a landline anymore and this is truly their sole means of communication to the outside world,” said Solhkhah.

Metro Market Manager for Robert Half Company Office Team, Dora Onyschak says some people use smartphones so often, it becomes a distraction.

“You’re constantly thinking about it,” said Onyschak. “I think we all have the habit of looking over and taking a look to see whose texted us and what emails we have.”

She feels one reason we’re so addicted is because smartphones contain so much of our personal information.

A recent Robert Half survey found a number of trends that prove we’re addicted to our phones at the office:

  • Employees ages 18 to 34 rack up 70 minutes on mobile devices and 48 minutes on personal tasks each work day, the most of all age groups.
  • While 62 percent of managers think staff spend the most time on social networks when using their own mobile devices during business hours, workers said they’re most occupied by personal email (30 percent).
  • Male employees most frequently check non-work email on their cell phones (32 percent), while females browse social networks more (33 percent).
  • Workers reported social media (39 percent) and entertainment websites (30 percent) are most commonly blocked at their companies. Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) indicated their organization doesn’t restrict access to online content.
  • More than half of professionals (58 percent) often use their personal devices at work to visit pages that are banned by their company, a 36-point jump from a 2012 survey. Only 39 percent of managers think it happens that commonly.
  • Sixty-eight percent of male workers frequently use their cell phones to access blocked websites in the office, compared to 43 percent of females.

“These (18-34 year olds) that grew up with an iPad or a cellphone,” said Onyschak. “Now, you have 2-year old kids that can…maybe not make a full-sentence yet but are zooming through an iPad.”

So, how often are you on your phone throughout the course of the day? A couple times, every hour?…every five-minutes?

Dr. Solhkhah explains that the addiction stems from a compound in the brain called dopamine.

He says one example is getting a like on Facebook or Instagram or a text confirming social plans like a date that night, makes you want to keep checking your phone for more of that good feeling.

“In order to keep that steady state, it becomes that sort-of treadmill of having to continually use that device in order to keep our normal levels of dopamine and keep that happy medium,” said Solhkhah.

Onyschak suggests that when you’re at work, it’s best for you to spend your smartphone time wisely.

“(Ask yourself), when is it important and when isn’t it?, when can you walk away from it a little bit and when can you not?,” said Onyschak.

Checking your phone at work for a text, social media post or a sports update is one thing, but does your addiction preventing your employee from getting work done?

Onyschak says every office is different but the bottom-line is that every worker needs to stay productive.

“At the end of the day the work still needs to get done,” said Onyschak. “Maybe that person needs to stay a little bit later to do the work or maybe they need to work through lunch a little bit.”

She says if workers aren’t productive, then supervisors should speak with their employees about it, but if they’re meeting their deadlines, she suggests maybe cutting them some slack.

Dr. Solhkhah says some people are so addicted to their phone, that even if they tried to go cold turkey and step away for a while, it would be a real challenge.

“For those people it literally is the equivalent that if they don’t have their phone, it’s like trying to quit nicotine or caffeine,” said Solhkhah.

* In part two of our series, we take a look at the anxiety that comes when you’ve lost your phone or think you may have, and what to do next.

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