Are you addicted to your iPhone and is it screwing up your life?

Gaming and mobile addiction explained by the experts

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Do you reach for your iPhone first thing before giving your wife a good morning kiss? Do you spend more time looking at your shiny new 3GS in bed than reading one of the growing pile of great books next to you? Do you get more excited about new apps than you do about new albums?

I do. To my shame. My name is Adam. And I am an App-oholic.

I first developed signs of this impending addiction early last year, when I finally kowtowed and bought myself an iPhone 3G. At the time I wasn't entirely sure why I wanted one, other than thinking it would be useful to be able to get online now and then to use Google Maps. And to check my Gmail. And to play Super Monkey Ball, of course.

Soon enough I had, I thought, exhausted the fun to be had downloading the numerous free apps from the App Store, 99 per cent of which were either a complete waste of time or, at best, a fun diversion for a few minutes. Party trick gimmicks.

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But then I installed the superb RSS reader NetNewsWire, which I use constantly for staying on top of technology and gaming news feeds for work. And then I started idly checking out Twitter via Tweetdeck…

A few weeks later I found myself having a heated conversation with a colleague in a pub about the relative merits of the new Tweetie (£1.79) over Tweetdeck (free, but not as good). By that point, I realised that I was already lost…

Gadget and gaming addiction

I have managed to devise a number of cunning coping strategies to manage my iPhone use (I switch it to silent in the cinema and I make sure I'm not obviously looking at it when my wife is directly addressing me), but gadget and gaming addiction really is no laughing matter.

Technology is making too many people more fearful and anxious than ever before, while increasing numbers of teenagers and young people spend way too much of their time sitting alone in their bedrooms playing videogames and updating Facebook, creating fun and cool online personas for themselves, at the expense of their real-life ones beyond the screens.

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TechRadar spoke with a number of experts in the areas of games, internet and mobile phone addiction to find out more about some of the key issues at stake.

"This is a psychological addition, which is the need to engage in an activity of some kind," according to Dr. Nigel Holt, Author and Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Bath Spa University. "It's a compulsion. I wouldn't be at all surprised if addiction to gadgets such at iPhones or Blackberries might not cause similar feelings as addictions to other things.

"Those addicted to gambling, for instance, show withdrawal just as do those addicted to smoking, so imagine how those addicted to gadgets must feel when they leave their iPhone at home by accident."

Holt thinks a major problem is that "gadgets are all around us now" likening this to "how someone addicted to smoking feels every time they see someone light up, or when they see things they associate with smoking, like matches, or ashtrays" which, in psychology, is called 'cue-reactivity' where something associated with the addiction makes us feel withdrawal from it.