‘People develop a sort of compulsive disorder’ - Norwich’s thoughts on the smartphone addiction

Natalie Woods and her friend Bonnie. Photo: Katie Crowson

Natalie Woods and her friend Bonnie. Photo: Katie Crowson - Credit: Katie Crowson

When we come to the end of our lives, will we remember the time we spent scrolling through Facebook?

Stephen Smith sent hundreds of texts and calls to his ex-partner after breaking up. Photo: Dominic L

Stephen Smith sent hundreds of texts and calls to his ex-partner after breaking up. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

It can be very difficult to break phone addiction, which is rapidly becoming an epidemic.

New YouGov research based on a survey of more than 2,000 people claims that 55pc of Britons can't make it through dinner without checking their devices, and 53pc said they checked the gadgets even when dining out with friends and family.

As well as our relationships and concentration span, phones can also affect our general wellbeing.

We spoke to people in Norwich about their thoughts on the mobile phone addiction.

Helena Mellows. Photo: Katie Crowson

Helena Mellows. Photo: Katie Crowson - Credit: Katie Crowson

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Helena Mellows, 17 and from Stratton Strawless, said: 'I think the worst thing is losing sleep, you can spend hours scrolling.'

And Sam Gardham, from Watford, said: 'You miss out on the sounds of life. And how can you grow as a person if you're encased in this little world? It's a lot more healthy to see creation.'

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Many people were sceptical about the real day-to-day benefits that could be achieved through government schemes or apps that inform you of screen time, though most agreed that the public needed to be shocked into greater awareness of the potential detriment to relationships and health.

Several older people commented that it was up to parents to teach young children better manners and not expose them to phones so early.

But many of the younger people we spoke to were very phone-aware and had made active efforts to reduce their phone usage, using creative strategies for combatting the impact of screen addiction.

They included University of East Anglia student Natalie Wood, who swapped her smart phone for a simple Nokia for two years.

'It was great because it made me a lot more connected to the world around me,' she said. 'People do develop a sort of compulsive disorder to check their phones constantly, cause you've got that sort of instant gratification. But on the negative side, it did mean that when my friends did get out their phones I was just sitting there.'

Cara Fitzpatrick, 21, reached a point with her boyfriend where they 'had to make rules not to be on our phones'.

Similarly, Lee, 29, and his friends took inspiration from a television show to develop their own way of ensuring they remained connected to one another instead of their devices.

He said: 'What we do is put our phones in the middle of the table in a pile, and if we were in a pub drinking, the first one that picked up their phone would then have to buy a round of drinks.'

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