Joe Brown plays on his phone when he brushes his teeth and he's not the only one.
An international research team found people are increasingly turning to digital devices to manage their emotional peaks and troughs.
Although phones can be useful distractions, there are limitations to digital emotion regulation and healthier ways of dealing with our feelings, researchers said.
The research team from the University of Melbourne, Stanford University and University College London found that up to half of phone use may be for emotion regulation.
"My phone is always on me, I've always got it in my pocket, so if I have a second my hand will float to it," the Sydney-based writer said.
He and his girlfriend were driving from a film set in Broken Hill back to Sydney in July and planned to stay a night at the Underground Motel in outback NSW.
But it was a long and muddy drive that made 31-year-old Mr Brown crave a shower and an episode of something forgettable.
"When we got into our room, there was no TV, no Wi-Fi and no phone signal," he said.
"I was staring down the barrel of a night without digital engagement and the actual panic that I felt was palpable," Mr Brown said.
The couple went to watch the White Cliffs' desert sunset from a viewing platform and discovered a miracle - they had a phone signal.
With the faintly tethered connection they watched Mission: Impossible four and five, Rogue Nation and Fallout.
"I felt a weigh had been lifted off my shoulders," Mr Brown said.
University of Melbourne researcher Dr Greg Wadley said digital devices are being increasingly used to manage stress, anxiety and boredom.
"The pandemic lockdowns led people to do relatively more digital regulation," he said.
"You're doing something with your hands and your thoughts are playing out in the background," Dr Wadley said.
"It's just enough so you're not ruminating on the next deadline or the problems with a friend."
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Mr Brown said he's in a cycle of re-downloading and deleting the Instagram app to stop himself using social media unconsciously.
"I had Instagram this morning but I deleted it this afternoon because I'm going to the gym," he said.
"In the middle of sets, when I'm supposed to be resting, I'll check Instagram and realise I've spent five minutes looking at my phone instead of 30 seconds," he said.
"What scares me is that I can go six months without it on my phone and decide to re-download it and I instantly start checking it again constantly," he said.
Dr Wadley said mood management with digital devices is "very situationally dependent".
"If you're annoyed that your bus is running five minutes late so you play Candy Crush, that's not hurting anyone and it's better than getting upset," he said.
"In these cases, some form of emotional regulation is kind of all we've got."
"But if you're playing games for five hours the night before an exam because you can't get that intense anxiety out of your head - that's not good."
Sound recordist Joseph Dutaillis said he uses his phone to fill in time or to work on-the-go.
But doesn't believe his phone has a hold over him.
"When I really want to, I catch myself and stop," he said.
"If you can recognise that your phone use does sometimes represent emotional regulation, and it's not working out, then there's decades of research that present better ways of doing it," Dr Wadley said.