Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone? There’s an App for That

woman talking on smartphoneBetween checking emails and text messages, posting photos to Instagram, status updates to Facebook, and tweets to Twitter, reading the news, surfing the Internet, playing games, watching movies, listening to music, and getting directions, smartphones have a lot going on to keep users busy and distracted. Oh yeah, and you can make phone calls on them, too.

With so much happening in one tiny device, it can be hard to set the smartphone down and actually live your life. And considering how many people walk around with their faces glued to their pocket-sized screens, a group of computer scientists and psychologists at the University of Bonn in Germany decided to develop an app that allows users to measure their usage and determine whether they are, in fact, addicted to their smartphones.

Do we really need an app for that? Probably not. But nonetheless, the Menthal app will soon be available as a free download from the Google Play store on Android 4.0 (or newer). Their promotional video (below) shows a string of familiar, day-to-day smartphone scenes and asks the question: “Are you in control of your smartphone? Or is your smartphone controlling you?”

There is obvious value in taking a moment to ask this of yourself if you own a smartphone and regularly wind up face-to-face with it. In fact, given the option of putting a statistic to the amount of time you spend staring into the virtual beyond, you may be shocked at the results.

In a study conducted by the researchers, they used the app to evaluate the smartphone usage of 50 university students for six weeks, and they found that on average, the participants activated their phones more than 80 times per day and a quarter of them spent more than two hours each day on their handheld devices.

The researchers are hoping to gain a deeper understanding of where to draw the line between “normal” and “too much” when it comes to cellphone behavior. While smartphone addiction is not necessarily recognized by medical professionals, one of the researchers has been quoted as saying that usage absolutely resembles addictive behavior that may be akin to Internet addiction at times. “Outright withdrawal can actually occur when cellphones cannot be used,” he said.

So, are you addicted to your smartphone?


Markowetz, A., Blaszkiewicz, K., Montag, C., Switala, C., and Schlapfer, T. (2014, January 13). Psycho-informatics: big data shaping modern psychometrics. Medical Hypotheses. In Press, Accepted Manuscript. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2013.11.030. Abstract retrieved from

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  • Leave a Comment
  • Simone P

    January 30th, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    “Too Much” would be when you get to that point of not being able to do anything else in life without having that connection to the phone. I know people like that, they are quite annoying!

  • AJ

    January 31st, 2014 at 3:54 AM

    sort of ironic that you would use an app if addicted to your phone

    wouldn’t it be a little healthier to look for some other method of working through that problem?

  • Pete W

    February 1st, 2014 at 5:30 AM

    I don’t think that this is about an addiction at all but just a general lack of manners that has crept into society. It’s not okay to wear a hat in a restaurant so how could it be okay to talk on the phone, check your email or play a game? Our rules about what is acceptable has gotten all out of whack with what is actually kind and polite. I never want to sit and have dinner with someone who constantly acts as if whatever tweet or status update that they see online is more important and compelling than what I am trying to talk to them about face to face. I think that we could all use a little refresher course on etiquette because some people have totally lost control with being on their phones!

  • Rhea

    February 3rd, 2014 at 4:03 AM

    If I see this happening with my kids, you think I am going to steer them toward an app to fix it?
    Um no!
    I will just take the thing away from them!

  • Cheyenne

    February 3rd, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    you have to remember that so many of us are glued to our phones so closely that this may be the only way that many would seek out help!

  • Mike

    February 10th, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    It’s not okay to wear a hat in a restaurant? What is this 1950?

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