In a world where addiction is usually associated with substances, we now find that smartphones are seen as the new devil. Ever since Apple convinced us of our need to use a smartphone and the apps in them, we have increasingly placed mobile phones at the centre of our lives. This leads us to constantly check our smart devices. This, by definition, is a smartphone addiction.
According to Forbes writer Phee Waterfield, it can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that search terms such as ‘digital wellness’ and ‘cell phone addiction’ have gained increasing popularity in recent years. Part of the reason why people are addicted to their mobile phones is due to the rise of social media and the importance the younger generations place on the social networks. Worryingly it is looking more and more like this pastime is addictive.
Addiction to mobile phones perhaps correlates to a rising demand for trained IT and other mobile phone professionals. The time we spend on our mobile devices is continuing to increase. Indeed, the average U.S. person spends a huge 5 hours a day on their smartphone, which is a substantial increase from 2015 . A smartphone addiction is defined as when a mobile user launches an app more than 60 times a day, rather than the 10 times per day which is considered normal.
Such is our dependence on our mobile phone that we have developed a fear of being away from it. This is called Nomophobia, which is an abbreviation of “no-mobile-phone phobia.” Some college students keep their mobiles with them in their shower room, as per their need to be able to stay close to connectivity.
This is backed up by a study where the UK Post Office commissioned YouGov to research whether we are developing anxieties related to our mobile phone. It turns out nearly 53 percent of young mobile phone users in Britain develop anxiety when they cannot find their mobile, lose signal or break their phone!
In the US, 68% of people sleep with their smartphone next to them. Some people even reported being prepared to go without shoes in return for keeping their mobile close to them. Many reported that they would even answer their phone during intimacy!
This peculiar behavior is shown in both kids and adults alike. Some psychologists believe that smartphones give children a sense of freedom. (So much for climbing trees in the woods.) Children are so tuned in to their smartphones that the first thing they often do in the morning is check for messages from friends, scan Facebook or Instagram for an ‘interesting’ post. This reliance on constant content is how smartphones has come to dominate children’s lives.
It seems the fashion conscious and image obsessed angle that social media presents, appeals most to women who rank as higher mobile addicts than men. Approximately 15 million more women to be more precise, with a significant portion being teenagers and college students. Selfies really are that important. A recent poll on mobile use, found that 50 percent of teenagers answered they “felt addicted” to their smartphone.
Men are not exempt from this addiction. The desire to find out the latest news or sports result is also addictive enough to make them check their mobiles throughout the day. Indeed, a recent study found that people touch their phones 2,617 Times per day on average!
This desire to interact with our smartphone is also developing some worrying side-effects. A study of pedestrians in Manhattan found that 42% of those who crossed the road despite the “Don’t Walk” signal flashing were talking on their smartphone.
Furthermore, when MIT’s Sloan Management Review published the results to an experiment on mobile phone addiction in young people, the results were startling.
Students were required to give up their smartphones for a day to see what effect this would have. Students found they didn’t know what to do with the extra free time! Indeed, removing themselves from their addiction forced them to notice how much others were using their mobile phones. Even without theirs, they were focused on a smartphone (albeit someone else’s)! Concentration is fragmented with it and without it.
A study in the US found that teenagers performed worse in mental tasks when they had their mobile phones confiscated. It was suggested this was linked back to depending on it for happiness and not knowing when it was causing anxiety. This would suggest that we have become too dependent on our mobile phones.
The rise in cell phone addiction has also drawn attention to the effects of cell phones on relationships with more partners reporting feeling neglected by their significant others. Some have also suggested that the rise in suicides in teenagers is also linked to smartphone addiction. Teenagers who spent time focusing on sport, homework, and socializing were found to be happier than their screen-focused contemporaries. The focus on social media which mobile phones inevitably assists is particularly unhealthy. It presents an often-impossible image to impressionable youngsters to compare themselves against. Technology should be a servant to our needs, not a arbiter of emotive discontent!