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Issue:- 10 October 2014

Mobile phone addiction causing relationship woes

NEW research has revealed the North West is full of mobile-phone addicts, so lost without their phones that it's causing problems in their relationships.

The survey of 1000 people commissioned by MusicMagpie found that 38% of couples in the North West bicker about the amount of time spent on their mobile phones, with 10% admitting they frequently argue about it. As a result, 25% of people actively hide how much they use their phone from their partner.

When on a romantic break or date night, a shocking 85% admitted they wouldn't leave their phones at home. The majority (70%) claimed it would only be used in an emergency, but 9% said they'd want to share details with friends. 5% said they'd take their phone on a date in case they got bored.  However, 29% felt that it was their partner who used their mobile phone too much; suggesting phone-addicted Brits could be in denial.

Toni Mackenzie, Psychotherapist at Inner Depths, said:- "Over recent years, mobile phones have become psychologically addictive for many users, and not just the younger generation. While they can be an extremely useful communication tool and source of information, they can also lead to users switching off from reality, missing out on what's actually going on around them, and getting lost in cyber world. When someone is engrossed in sending and receiving texts and messages for a period of time, virtually ignoring the person they are actually with, they are choosing to give their attention to someone else. They may not intend to be rude or disrespectful, but they are in fact giving out an unspoken message that the person they are with is less important and not deserving of their full attention. When this happens on an ongoing basis, friends and partners feel neglected and devalued and consequently relationships suffer."

The research also looked into personal mobile phone usage, with 25% of survey respondents admitting they check their phone at least once an hour, while 3% check their phone as often as every 5 minutes.  The study also found it's the younger generation who are most addicted, with 26% admitting they would rather give up chocolate, 17% would rather give up alcohol and 14% would rather give up sex instead of curbing their mobile phone addiction.

Liam Howley from musicMagpie, a recommerce site which helps people de-clutter by buying old items like mobile phones, said:- "Mobile phones are now a huge part of our lives. Even when we stop using our old phones because they've been replaced by a newer model, we still can't bear to part with them, as each house on average has three unused phones lying around."

To help people test and compare their mobile phone addiction musicMagpie has created an online quiz .

Liam added:- "The quiz is a fun way to determine how addicted people are to their phone and perhaps settle a few arguments between couples."

Toni Mackenzie's tips for weaning yourself off your Smartphone

1. Gradually leave bigger gaps between checking your messages or social media posts. If you normally check every 15 minutes, make it once an hour, if every hour, leave it for 2 to 3 hours etc. Build up to only checking 2 or 3 times a day. You can let friends/work colleagues know in advance that you're going to be doing this and that if there's an emergency where they need an urgent response from you, they can call you.

2. If you think you'll get bored without your phone to turn to, think of ways you can fill your time instead. Read a book or listen to music when you're travelling on public transport or waiting around. You could also make better use of your time learning a new skill or doing some exercise.

3. In social situations, only use your phone if you're sharing something with the people you're with; looking up information or posting a social media post that includes your friends.

4. Don't check your phone when you're on a date, or with someone you're meant to be spending one to one time with. Focus on whoever you are with and give them your full attention.

5. Be fully present and start to appreciate being in the 'here and now'. Take notice of what's going on around you, connecting with real people in the real world.

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