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Are You Addicted To Your Smartphone?

Written by Alexander College in Student Life on August 28, 2019

Are you addicted to your smartphone?

You’re not alone. Our cell phones are usually the first thing we look at when we wake up, and the last thing we see before we fall asleep.

Our phones keep us connected, organized, and endlessly entertained. That said, spending too much time on your phone can decrease your focus on your academics. Not only that, it can adversely affect your mental health.

Person holding phone opening Youtube app
People browsing their phones

Before you judge yourself for the amount of time you’re spending on your phone, understand that there is a reason you’re doing it. Often, we’ll look down at our phone and see something that makes us happy — a like on an Instagram post, a new friend request, a message from a crush.

All of this causes our brain’s reward center to release dopamine. Think of dopamine as a “feel-good chemical”.  It reinforces behaviour that makes us feel happy, and in doing so can create addiction. However, there are good reasons to start breaking the habit of compulsive cell phone use, such as your sense of well-being and your grades.

Group of people on their laptops and phones
Iphone with Facebook login on screen alongside Social Media written out in scrabble tiles

Firstly, overuse of cellphones can increase your feelings of loneliness and social isolation. We often compare ourselves negatively to others on social media, or feel like we’re missing out.

Being on your phone all the time can also lead to physical consequences such as eye strain, sleeplessness, and neck pain.

Lastly, phone overuse can have a negative effect on your academic achievement, productivity and time management skills.

As an example, if you’re using study time to text and go on Instagram, your ability to focus on your studies will decrease. This may turn what should be an hours’ worth of homework into three hours.

The good news is that being aware of the problem is the first step towards fixing it.


Here are some tips to help you cut down on your cellphone use and focus on your studies:


Make Rules For Yourself

Girl looking at Instagram on her phone
Stack of books suggesting to turn off your phone when studying
  • Turn off your phone when doing homework/studying. Better yet, keep it in another room while you are trying to focus on any important task.
  • If you aren’t comfortable turning off your phone completely, turn off notifications or put it on “airplane” or “do not disturb” mode while in class or studying.
  • Temporarily remove some of the more “addictive” apps from your phone during the midterms and final exam period.

If you find that you must use your cellphone, we also share ways to positively use Social Media in order to enhance your college experience!

Download an Application to Help Cut Down on Cell Phone Use

Girl holding candle for meditation
Student hiking at Capilano Bridge to destress

It’s very important to dedicate your time towards keeping your body and mind healthy. You may feel a huge change and shift due to being in a different environment. That is completely okay! We share ways to handle change in a new environment in our post here. 

In addition, here are some great phone apps that you can download towards cutting down your cell phone use:

  • Space (for IOS/Android – some paid features)
  • Mute (free for IOS)
  • Moment (free for IOS/Android)
  • Flipd (free for IOS/Android)
  • Forest (free for IOS/Android)
  • AppDetox (free for Android)


Focus on Your Offline Life

Balloons with happy smiles on them
Student wearing Timberland boots in snow

Focusing on other interests like exercise, hobbies, outdoor activities and socializing with people offline can help you cope with cravings to use your cell phone. Perhaps check out different cafes in Vancouver with friends?

In addition, relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and deep breathing also helps calm the mind.

A great way to diversify your offline life is by checking out the various volunteer opportunities on campus! This is a great way to meet new people and play an active role at AC.


If you’d like to learn more coping strategies for minimizing cell phone use, contact Kerry-Anne Holloway, our Health and Wellness Counsellor for confidential appointments with students at 604-780-1799 or 


Registered Clinical Counsellor and Canadian Certified Counsellor at Alexander CollegeAuthor: 

Kerry Anne is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Canadian Certified Counsellor and loves to work with students at Alexander College in her role as the Health and Wellness Counsellor. I’m here to offer students support, a fresh perspective and guidance in times of stress or difficulty. When I’m not working I love travelling, keeping active, hanging out with friends and family and finding the spiciest food in Vancouver and abroad.

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