People experience dopamine being released with small wins or large doses. The possibility of getting a charge keeps people playing for hours. The more time you are on the cell phone the higher likelihood of being rewarded, which releases dopamine. Emails, texting, looking at Instagram checking the news, all make you attracted to looking for that high. Instant gratification.
Dependency and addiction involve all of the components that point to being out of control. The addiction starts to impact you negatively, in relationships, your job, school, and moods created by not getting your fix. If addressed, and attempts to stop are initiated, a person may feel anxiety, uneasiness, and depression being away from their phone.
Different treatment methods include simply limiting cell phone use. There are apps to help accomplish that. Keep cell phones out of the bedroom and mealtime alone or with family. In the past kids would read the back of cereal boxes while having breakfast, watch TV, similar ‘spacing out.’ To check to see how dependent you are, try a weekend without the phone and see how you feel.