Back in the day "apps" were things we ate before a dinner or lunch. These days, the term "app" has taken on a whole new meaning thanks to the smartphone. Applications can be used to do anything from texting a friend to giving directions, and everything in between.
Dr. Scott Bea, a clinical psychologist at Cleveland Clinic, says apps do make our lives easier, but if we rely on them too much, it can be unhealthy.
"If we get attached to these applications it actually can have dilatory consequences for us long-term. Really, we have got to put that away and go encounter people in flesh and blood, learn some good social skills," he said.
Bea says communicating through an app is often much easier, especially for socially anxious people. He says one study found people using a text messaging app more than 12 times an hour, which is once every 5 minutes.
Bea says this becomes dangerous because you run the risk of living a virtual life and not lifting your head up to engage in other experiences. He says that's why it's important to pay attention to some simple warning signs that may tell you if you're addicted to apps.
"When it starts to infiltrate other parts of your life, when you can't sit and watch a half-hour sitcom have a conversation with a friend, you're having a meal in a restaurant and you cannot help but gravitate toward that app, then I think it's problematic for you because it's taking you away from real life," Bea explained.
He says like almost any addiction, an app addiction is about impulse control and should be treated as such. Bea adds if you have a proneness to addictive or similar types of behaviors, you may be vulnerable.