Addicted to Screen Time? How Do You Know? - Addiction Modesto
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Addicted to Screen Time? How Do You Know?

I'm hearing more and more people express loneliness and boredom and I'm seeing more rudeness and snarkiness. We rush to our screens to get rid of the boredom or for the excitement of what's going on or to NOT FEEL LEFT OUT. And, while there are fun things on FB, Instagram, etc. how are you doing with personal relationships? How's your stress level? (More screen time can = more stress.)

Do you see people acting more rudely, or snarky, as I like to call it? Are you, or your friends feeling lonely or bored, but stuck to your screen? I hear the average person checks their smart phone 47 TIMES a day.

  • Do you feel cranky for no reason?

  • Bored and immediately check your phone to see what you’re missing out on?

  • Are you snarkier than you used to be? You know what I mean? Your fuse is shorter – your immediate reaction is not always kind.

  • Having trouble sleeping?

  • Feel constantly stressed?

These can be symptoms of Screen overwhelm.

As I’m driving in my car stopped at a light I see almost everyone’s head down checking their phone. The other night at The Gallo Arts Center with my 9 year old granddaughter, a lovely woman with her 2 daughters, couldn’t keep her eyes off her screen. Her daughter was trying to connect with her, and mom would once in awhile.

I wonder how parents constant focus on their screens will affect our human ability and desire to BE fully with each other and to be able to read the facial cues and body language cues that are important to connection.

What would be your first reaction if someone said to you:  “I’m addicted to fast food, internet porn and shopping,” That was my first intro to Brad (name changed).

These so called guilty pleasures, fun hobbies or escapes can move from choice, to habit to compulsion.  If we’re overusing them to try to meet needs they can’t possibly meet; loneliness, feeling left out, longing for belonging, getting a hug, love. Yes, they can be great distractions and be fun. But, how do you really feel after an hour on FB comparing yourself to all those WONDERFUL others who look and seem incredibly happy (& you aren’t).

There’s an old saying: “What fires together, wires together.” The more our brain is trained to get pleasure or relief from a certain activity the more the brain SEEKS more of the same. Over time, some of us develop addictive behaviors with social media, FB, video games, food, sex – anything that feels good and relieves stress.

Nothing good or bad about any of this, but if our seeking pleasure or distraction crosses the line to HAVE to DO this, or is affecting life negatively; debt, relationships hurt, jobs lost, stress intensified… then you probably want to check out other stress, anxiety coping methods and expand what feels like fun.

“When a hobby, habit, or behavior becomes an addiction, it can be just as harmful as addictions to alcohol or chemical substances.

What Can You do Do If You Are Stressed/Anxious/Depressed and Are Overusing Screen Time?

1) Take a Breath – the first step of change is awareness.
2) Decide to take a 5 Minute Pause throughout the day. Put the phone away. Set the timer if you have to.  Breathe. Notice how you feel – anxious, bored (I hear this a lot),  worried. No judgment, just notice.
3) Ask yourself – what’s the upside of social media, screen time?
4) What’s the downside?

If you relate to this article please talk to someone you trust or seek counseling or 12 Step help. I’m available for a quick phone chat. You can email me at or text 209 505-2675.

Picture of Lynn Telford-Sahl

Lynn Telford-Sahl

Lynn Telford-Sahl is a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor with a Masters in Psychology with a Holistic Specialization from John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, CA. Feel free to use all or part of this blog as long as you list my name, website and contact information. Lynn is the author of Intentional JOY: How to Turn Stress, Fear & Addiction into Freedom.
209 505-2675
Click HERE to get your copy of Intentional Joy



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