Smartphone Addiction: How to Save Yourself – and Your Wallet

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Could you live without your smartphone? According to a recent survey, one in five of us might have a tough time doing so.

A disturbing 21 percent of smartphone users admitted to being addicted to their phones in a recent survey [PDF] by marketing company Cloud Science – and 18 percent of smartphone users even see the type of phone they use as “a reflection” of who they are.

Despite the common perception that teens and 20-somethings are obsessed with their phones, it turns out that adults in the 30-49 age bracket use smartphone features most often. And the smartphone of choice is, of course, the iPhone (17 percent), followed by the Android (14 percent) and Blackberry (12 percent).

Smartphone addiction might sound like a joke, but as we recently reported, your phone could cost you your job if you can’t put it down at work. And at the very least, if you’re addicted to features you don’t really need, it’s costing you more money than a regular phone would.

So what’s a smartphone addict to do? Psychologist David Greenfield, author of Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyberfreaks, and Those Who Love Them, offers these tips on WebMD:

  • Be conscious of the situations and emotions that make you want to check your phone.
  • Be strong when your phone beeps or rings. You don’t always have to answer it. In fact, you can avoid temptation by turning off the alert signals.
  • Be disciplined about not using your device in certain situations (such as when you’re with your family or driving) or at certain hours (for example, between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.).

If you don’t think moderation would squelch your addiction, you could always yank the bandage off all at once by just tossing the phone. After all, 42 percent of all wireless users still have regular ol’ cell phones. That may sound crazy or at least impractical to some smartphone users, but many of us here at Money Talks News get by just fine without smartphones – and save a lot of money each month as a result.

  • I have what my carrier claims is smartphone: a touchscreen Samsung (called the Samsung Caliber) that vaguely resembles an iPhone but is quite unsmart. The browser is so slow and clumsy that I just gave up on using my phone to access the Internet, but that just reminded me that I never needed it to begin with. I upgraded my previous phone only because I needed a Qwerty keyboard and e-mail access. I’m sure Blackberry’s e-mail is much better, but I don’t need it enough to pay extra.
  • Fellow reporter Brandon Ballenger is in the same boat: He’d like to upgrade from his regular phone (a Samsung) but doesn’t need to enough to justify the price. “It has a camera that I’ve used a couple times, and I guess it can have MP3s and web access, but what would I use that tiny screen for when I have an MP3 player, a laptop, and a digital camera?” he said. “I’m happy to use my phone as a phone and my other devices as such.”
  • And then there’s managing editor Michael Koretzky, who’s still using a 5-year-old Nokia Model 6030. “CNet called it ‘a basic phone that’s actually stylish’ – in 2006,” Koretzky says. “I don’t need a smartphone because I mostly work at home and have a computer nearby.” But he does carry a first-generation iPhone in his other pocket. His brother discarded it last year. Koretzky doesn’t make calls with it, so he pays no iPhone-size bill each month but still has a pocket-size calendar and access to apps that don’t require an Internet connection.

Stacy Johnson, on the other hand, has an iPhone 4, as do (no surprise) Money Talks web head Dan Schointuch and production chief/reporter Jim Robinson.

Whatever phone you use, we’re not short on tips…

Do you think smart phones are simply “bling,” or necessary? What kind of phone do you use?

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