My phone wears the pants in our relationship

Ricky ChananaMobile addiction is making us sick but Ricky Chanana isn’t planning to do anything about it any time soon.

My beloved phone totally dominates our relationship. I’m at its mercy at all times. It’s the last thing I say goodnight to, the first greeting in the morning. I’m insanely addicted to that bright, illuminating glow.

It’s pretty sad but there’s some comfort in knowing I’m not the only one struggling with “Nomophobia”, fear of being out of mobile phone contact. A recent survey by mobile authentication provider SecurEnvoy found 66% of us get the shakes when our smartphone is out of reach, like an alcoholic coming off the booze.

Addiction really is the only way to describe it – especially when you consider us Aussies spend an average of eight hours 41 minutes on media devices, compared to the eight hours 21 minutes we sleep in a 24 hour period.

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 11.51.20 AM

Source: Roy Morgan research

Even if, like me, you opt to put your phone on silent when you sleep, the eerily quiet but powerful vibrating sound that comes with each new email or message is one of the biggest causes of anxiety and insomnia.

The end result is we’re not getting enough quality sleep. But it gets worse: we are also spending more time each morning checking emails and using the internet (51 per cent) than eating breakfast (18 per cent) or making ourselves look presentable (32 per cent). Our need for a mobile fix is making us sad, unhealthy and less attractive.

Maybe the answer is to get away from it all and switch off. Go on a digital detox retreat. Imagine a holiday where you check your phone at the door. It sounds good in theory but according to Hotels.com, Wi-Fi now sits at top of travellers wish lists with 66% of of people identifying it as their top amenity, alongside beaches and relaxing.

Clearly mobile phones are the scourge of modern society. The crack cocaine of the corporate world, if you will. And it’s not only those of us in the media bubble exhibiting this behaviour. You only need to get on a train to see it in action. No one is talking to each other, it’s all heads down, thumbs tapping. There’s a good chance you’re reading this on your mobile right now.

But the thing is, it’s too late in the game to do anything about it. If you’re not addicted, you’re missing out. The true scale of FOMO is expediting in all age demographics. With more and more connected smart devices in the market – and plenty more in the pipeline – they are becoming increasingly entrenched in every touch point of our lives.

That said, I’m probably the worst culprit for these addictive symptoms and more. At times I think we should block ourselves from these little devils, especially when we’re off the clock. But then the dynamic roles which are standard in this industry require us to have our finger on the pulse.

Yes, life can go on without a smartphone. But since I’m not putting mine down anytime soon, as an industry, let’s milk this addiction for all its worth. Creatives, you figure out how to make mobile ads pretty. Us media guys, we’ll continue to champion the inclusion of mobile in overall media spend while the telcos to make a killing selling air, I mean data.

Until the tide turns and it becomes unfashionable to always be ‘switched on’, could someone please develop an app that teaches us to ignore our phones?

  • Ricky Chanana is national digital and trading director at Maxus.


Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing