Smoking is a very destructive habit – that’s no secret. Millions of people die from smoking-related diseases each year around the world. Yet, despite knowing the dangers of smoking, many people are still unable to kick the habit. It’s an addiction that’s tough to knock. That being said, what if I told you there’s a certain type of addictive habit that’s not as lethal as cigarettes but can be more difficult to shake? I’m talking, of course, about mobile phone obsession.
(Side note: if you’re reading this on a mobile phone, then ooh boy, are we off to a rough start.)
The Rise of Mobile Phone Addiction
While it may seem that mobile phone obsession is harmless, it can have adverse effects on one’s health and overall well-being. Its excessive use has been linked to a variety of physical problems, such as headaches, eye strain, neck problems, and even infertility.
What’s more, the recent explosion of Android, iPhones, and other smartphone ownership certainly isn’t helping.
A PEW Research Center study in 2011 revealed that 95% of Americans now own a mobile phone of some kind, 77% of whom own a smartphone. Furthermore, the study revealed that 67% of smartphone users have admitted to looking at or checking their smartphone for calls or messages even when their phone did not vibrate or ring.
A separate study conducted by Deloitte on 4,150 British adults in 2017 revealed that 79% of people check mobile apps in the hour before going to sleep and 55% within 15 minutes of waking up. Surprisingly, only 38% of the respondents saw that this was a problem and admitted they were, indeed, using their smartphone too much.
Phone obsession not only can it cause a variety of physical problems, it can take its toll on our mental health, as well. This necessitates the need for measures to curtail phone obsession on the path to digital wellness.
The Dangers of Mobile Phone Obsession
Addiction to mobile phones poses several dangers ranging from acute to potentially lethal. These dangers, as mentioned earlier, do not merely affect a person’s physical state, but also a person’s mental well-being.
The overuse of mobile phones can lead to a variety of physical problems that may be difficult to treat, which could lead to permanent damage. These problems include:
- Infertility for males from mobile phone radiation causing decreased sperm counts, low motility, and viability.
- Body Fatigue due to sleep deprivation.
- Death from too much phone usage on the street such as texting while walking or using a phone while driving.
Mobile phone obsessions can also cause a slew of psychological problems including:
- Insomnia due to too much brain activity, which is caused by phone usage before going to sleep.
- Anxiety during prolonged periods of separation.
- Depression caused by imbalance of chemicals in the brain.
- Relationship problems due to phone overuse.
Warning Signs of Phone Addiction
Just like smoking, mobile phone obsession is an addiction that is difficult to discard. It may be a long journey to achieve digital wellness, but a long journey always begins with the first step. In this case, the journey to getting rid of mobile phone obsession is to admit that you have a problem and that you are willing to work on it.
But you might say, “how do I admit to a problem if it’s not really a problem in the first place?” To answer your question, here are some common warning signs that you can look out for to know if your phone obsession is getting out of hand.
Remember that some physical manifestations caused by mobile phone obsession can often be attributed to something else, or will even put others into a state of denial. Behavioral manifestations, however, are undeniable and can help you on your path to recovery.
These behavioral manifestations include:
- You are compelled to drop everything just to check on your phone.
- You feel like just staring at your phone despite having more important things to do.
- You lose track of time every time you use your phone.
- Your productivity at work is taking a big hit.
- Your fingers start to hurt because you’re holding your phone too much.
- You sleep with your phone right next to you or under your pillow so you can check on alerts easier.
- You feel anxious about being away from your phone for a prolonged period of time.
- You start to panic when you turn off your phone.
- You imagine your phone buzzing even when it is not – also called phantom vibrations.
The above symptoms are not meant to provide an official diagnosis of mobile phone addiction. They are meant to provide guidance during self-assessment and help you admit that you do have a problem.
The Path to Digital Wellness
The natural next step is to take measures to diminish phone usage. There are a variety of self-treatment methods that you can do to accomplish this. You can:
- Create rules for yourself that you should follow strictly. You can create a calendar or schedule for phone usage and prolonged periods of time in which mobiles phones should not be used.
- Download applications that can prohibit access to certain sites, or even the phone itself. It may seem counterintuitive, but some phone apps do help curb addiction.
- Perform activities that help keep your body and mind away from your mobile phone. These activities can help you relax your mind and helps you cope with cravings.
You can choose one method, or you can use multiple methods – anything to help you move closer to digital wellness.
Digital wellness is not a solution aimed at treating ailments caused by mobile phone obsession and addiction – it is a way of life. It is the ability of a person to incorporate technology into his or her life while also promoting optimal health and well-being. It is not a method used to curtail phone obsession, but the ultimate state of health and well-being reached when using mobile phones and other pieces of technology responsibly.
The path to digital wellness is not one without its difficulties. It is not a straight path. In fact, it can be filled with uphill climbs and slippery slopes.
Just like smoking, getting rid of an obsession in mobile phones can be difficult because it gives us pleasure, it can help us relax, and it’s very addictive. But even though it can be difficult, digital wellness will feel very rewarding once we achieve it.
To live a life in perfect harmony with everyday technology, free from any side effects they may cause sounds perfect to me.