Do You Suffer From Device Addiction?

By , October 20, 2009 2:58 am

Busy-ness manifests itself in many ways. Here are three of the most common:

  • Device Addiction
  • Deception
  • Distraction

Today’s post explores first one on the list…

Device Addiction

Here’s how Device Addication can unconsciously weave its way into your life, from my own experiences (and the experiences of my clients)…

Device Addiction

24/7 Connectability…

Have you noticed that the World is getting a smaller place? We now have 24/7 connectability. I can contact my friends around the World instantly. The technology is amazing: it’s portable, flexible and easy to use and…everyone is connected!

DANGER – Everyone is connected ALL the time!

There are lots of devices to help us keep in touch whilst going about our ‘business’: Mobile/Cell phones, lap tops, Blackberries, IPhones – to name a few! These devices help us to maintain our connectability and YES! they are very useful.

They can also hook us into busy-ness.


  • We have potential information overload at our fingertips.
  • Technology can be addictive.

These devices can be invaluable, but we can unconsciously over use them. Here’s an example from my own experience:

I wanted to be really successful at my job. I used to believe that effort = success:

The longer I worked + The more effort I put in = Great Success

Surely a recipe for success because my superiors would think highly of me and I’d get promoted? Nope! It was actually a recipe for busy-ness and ovewhelm!

I worked Monday to Friday every week. I used to keep my work phone ‘on’ over the weekend just incase… And sure enough, people started to call me or email me because I unwittingly taught them that is was okay to contact me because I’d be working! I set these expectations through my actions. All because I believed that effort = success.

Working at weekends soon became a habit. The more I did this – the more imposed it felt: I no longer had a choice, so I started to work longer hours as a result. Less time for my family, friends and myself. Having the technology enabled me to extend my working hours under the illusion that I was ‘getting a head’ both in my career and with my workload.

In reality, I was surviving and trying to keep up with my self imposed extended workloads!

Status and Massaging the Ego

We all like to feel needed and useful. We can sometimes unconsciously use technology to massage our ego and inflate its importance: to satisfy our neediness, to be liked, accepted and part of a group. When this is over-done, that’s when busy-ness creeps in because some of the following statements can become habitual:

  • How am I doing?
  • Let me check that you’re doing it right…
  • Do you still like me?
  • Do I look important enough?
  • Am I still popular?
  • Look how valuable/important I am everyone!
  • I’m still important

I sometimes train people who struggle to put their phones away because the have become so important to them (sometimes people are ‘on call’ which is fine). Delegates on workshops use a variety of different ways to conceal their Blackberries during training sessions so they can still check them!

During one workshop the whole group would collectively switch ‘on’ and check their blackberries in silence every break time! It’s interesting to watch the ‘Mexican wave’ of phone checking move through the group. Checking the phone actually became part of the group culture. Sometimes individual’s feel they have to check their phone to because everyone else is, even though they are not expecting to be contacted by anyone!


Device addiction can cause obsessive behaviour. This is where someone is constantly checking their phone or lap top even when talking to friends, family or colleagues at work. It becomes an unconscious habit: One that is often noticable and frustrating the the other person!

After all, it’s so easy to multi-task if you have an Iphone or Blackberry because you can check emails even when watching TV or whilst out dining with friends. We become hooked. We can’t put the phone down, because we have to constantly check and re-check. Here are a few examples:

  • Checking emails whilst talking to someone
  • Constantly texting whilst talking to someone
  • Answering every phone call – because you can, not because it’s more important that the friend you are spending time with
  • Constantly checking Twitter or Facebook (both are great tools but we can get hooked!)
  • Checking ‘stuff’ – nothing important it’s just ‘stuff’ but it’s there so I’ve got to check it!

I was recently coaching a woman who was overwhelmed with her working hours. She was struggling to manage her workloads because she hadn’t set any boundaries about work, which often leaked over into her personal time at the weekends. I call this work-extensions. She would regularly sleep with her Blackberry under the pillow and would check her emails during the night whenever she woke up (which became very frequent). This was a little frustrating for her partner, who would often wake up being blinded by the light, as she typed away on the key pad!

We sometimes become hooked because we forget to set clear boundaries and can’t let go or darn’t let go of our workloads. Work leaks into our leisure time and can ultimately affect our relationships and health.

Computer games can also be addictive. Have you ever lost a weekend to playing PSP or Wii? We label this as ‘escape’ time. Yet at the end of it we feel tired and exhausted, because we’ve been sucked in to addiction: ‘just 10 more minutes!’

Are you the person who says that they are just going to check their emails for half an hour and you re-appear four hours later after surfing the internet?

TV channel flicking can be another cause of device addiction. This is where we flick through hundreds of channels looking for something good to watch. When we get to end of the range, we begin at channel 1 again, because ‘surely there must be something worth watching now!’ Rinse and repeat!

Do you recognise any of these symptoms in your life?

What are YOU addicted to?

7 Responses to “Do You Suffer From Device Addiction?”

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  6. elaine says:

    Thanks for your comments. I’m glad you liked the article. This was one of my earlier ones.

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