Ever wondered how smartphones changed our lives? A necessity and a miracle of technology, smartphones have become an integral part of our lives. This gadget has brought in a plethora of changes in and around us. Thanks to smartphones, now one has several ways to communicate and remember important events. They have also altered our lifestyle, method of shopping and way of working in offices. A smartphone is an electronic device that lets one connect with people across the globe, allows one to capture precious moments of life and provides access to expert-level advice. But there is a pertinent question raised by experts – is smartphone affecting your mental health? Like all good things that come with a price, use of smartphone can become an addiction that can affect one’s physical and mental health.
Use of smartphones can cause stress and other health problems
An enormous increase in the use of wireless mobile technology has raised concerns about mobile phone radiation and its ill effects on the health. Many studies have shown the overexposure to cell phone radiation to adversely affect cell health in humans. Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted by cell phones can cause the cells in the human body to heat up that can damage them over time. Using mobile phones may lead to physical impairments like direct brain warming after prolonged use, tumors, memory impairment, brain damage, fetus damage and cancer.
However, further studies are needed due to lack of any conclusive evidence regarding such associations. The negative effects of spending too much time on smartphones are not always immediately visible. Excessive use of smartphones has often been known to cause stress and increase isolation. It has also been associated with some of the most common mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression.
Understanding smartphone addiction
Smartphones help their users escape from reality, much like a drug. Addictive in nature, they open the window to simple, colorful and easy to manipulate digital world. Thus, addiction to smartphones can separate us from our friends and family. Smartphone addiction can be understood as a dependence syndrome. It can be considered a form of technology addiction marked by a compulsive use of technology that can lead to significant impairment in various domains of one’s life, including personal, academic and professional.
Factors leading to smartphone addiction
A number of theories are doing rounds regarding the causes of smartphone addiction. However, the gadget is more likely to become a problem for individuals experiencing stress, depression or loneliness. Excessive use of smartphones or other tabular devices can be observed in people who avoid social situations and use their smartphones as a defensive mechanism to avoid social interaction. Additionally, shy individuals or those who struggle to form relationships might be more susceptible to overuse of smartphones.
Some of the tell-tale signs of smartphone addiction are:
- Constantly checking phone at regular intervals for no reason
- Thought of losing the device makes one anxious or restless
- Decline of performance at work or at school
- Increased dependence on smartphones
- Physical symptoms including digital eye strain and text neck
- Avoiding any social interaction in favor of using smartphone
- Increase in distraction due to constant messages or use of smart apps
Smartphone addiction is real
While most of us spend a majority of our daily lives looking at or checking our smartphones consciously or unconsciously, there are some facts about phone addiction that might leave a person completely surprised.
Addiction to smartphones is real:As per reports, eight in 10 Americans believe that cell phones are addictive. Called nomophobia or fear of being out of mobile phone contact, smartphone addiction actually exists and affects many people. As per recent surveys, 58 percent men and 47 percent women suffer from nomophobia.
Phantom vibrations:A belief that the phone has rang or vibrated, phantom vibrations are a real phenomenon. Individuals addicted to their smartphones are more susceptible to experiencing a false belief that their phones have received a notification, even when they have not.
Compulsive behavior:Given the elaborate features offered by a smartphone, a person addicted to his/her smartphone may feel the need to use his/her smartphone for everything in life. Obsessive use of smartphones often causes individuals to check his or her phone screens as a result of boredom or when there is nothing else to do. While an average person checks his/her phone 110 times a day, those addicted to their smartphones end up checking their phones 900 times a day.
Ever wondered how smartphone affects our life? A necessity for most people, many cannot even survive a day without their phones. Those addicted to smartphones have also been found to sleep with their smartphones right next to them or take their smart devices to the bathroom.
Limited interaction with people and other real life experiences:
Individuals addicted to their smartphones often view the world through their phones, leading to lesser human and social interactions. This prevents them from indulging in activities that might actually be fun and refreshing.
Tips to curb smartphone addiction
While it may not be possible to completely get rid of one’s addiction to smartphones, one can start by taking small steps. Following are some tips to curb smartphone addiction:
- Restrict phone use: While it may not be possible to ditch the smartphone completely, one can start by fixing particular times when one can use the smartphone in a day. For instance, try and avoid smartphone use during meal times or at social gatherings. Keeping a track of your smartphone use would also go a long way in curbing smartphone addiction.
- Engage in real human contact: People addicted to their smartphones often miss what is right in front of them. Though the device allows people to constantly stay in touch, smartphone addiction can hurt close relationships.
- Turn off your phone: Pretty obvious but hardly practiced, turning off the phone is as simple as it sounds. Turn off the phone before going to bed, at meals, while travelling, and if possible, during important social events. If one is unable to switch it off completely, try the “do not disturb” feature and instead devote one’s time to oneself, work, family and friends.
- Get a real alarm clock: While it may be tempting to reach out for one’s phone the first thing in the morning, it is also important to recognize that a peek can soon lead to unnecessary use of internet or apps. By replacing one’s smartphone with a real alarm clock, one can considerably reduce the smartphone use.
- Get rid of unnecessary apps: While some apps may be useful, most of the apps are a clutter. Getting rid of unnecessary apps would also help increase productivity at both school and work.
- Customize notifications: Cutting down the number of notifications can also help in reducing the use of smartphones. Once addicted to a smartphone, it might actually require an effort to ignore notifications. With limited or no notifications, there is no reason to check the phone anyway. If turning off notifications does not work, try turning off internet.
- Don’t use phone in bed: Make the bedroom a phone-free zone. Keeping the smartphone away from the bedroom and not charging it by the side of the bed also helps in curbing the tendency to check it unnecessarily. While it might seem hard initially, it will eventually become a habit.
- Focus on people, not on screen:With most people glued to their smartphones all the time, human interaction has become secondary. Instead of a real-life conversation with a real person, a person addicted to smartphone would rather look into his/her phone or indulge in virtual talk. During a real-life conversation, make a conscious effort to focus on the person being spoken to instead of fiddling with or checking the smartphone.
- Try a feature phone: Remember the good old days when the only job of a cell phone was to receive or make calls or text messages. An extreme measure, switching over to a feature phone might help tackle smartphone addiction. Use the phone only for its essential features like making calls or exchanging text-based messages.
- Try a no-phone day once a week: This may sound harsh but once a week keep yourself away from a smartphone. On the designated “no-phone” day, try meeting people or take to some form of interesting physical activity.
No matter how hard one may try, smartphones are common and there is no living without them. Therefore, instead of avoiding them completely, one should be careful about the time spent on these devices and take a break from them every once in a while. Despite what one may think, addiction to smartphones is a real phenomenon. While one may not realize, spending too much time online or being hooked on one’s smartphone can lead to severe mental and physical health problems that are not immediately obvious.
Are you also addicted to your smartphone? Let us know how do you curb your smartphone addiction by comments below.