Cell phones have become such a powerful tool in our lives that without them we literally feel indispensable. It is the thing we really wake up to and the last thing to check at night. People literally have their world inside their phones. Cellphone addiction has been a very problematic aspect of the already complicated lives of the individuals
Pew Research Center reports that 81 percent of Americans now own smartphones — up from just 35 percent in 2011. And, over the past 5 years, Google Trends indicates that searches for “cell phone addiction” have likewise been rising.
There are many terminologies given to people’s fear of being without their phones like:
- nomophobia: the fear of going without your phone
- textaphrenia: the fear that you can’t send or receive texts
- phantom vibrations trusted Source: the feeling that your phone is alerting you when it really isn’t
There’s little doubt that excessive cell phone use is a problem for lots of people
But there’s some debate among medical and mental health professionals about whether problematic cell phone use is truly an addiction or the result of an impulse control issue. Many medical experts are reluctant to assign the word “addiction” to anything other than habitual substance misuse.
There are over 3.8 billion smartphone users in the world. Research published by Virgin Mobile discovered that those billions of smartphone users receive 427% more messages and notifications than they did a decade ago. They also send 278% more texts. The rise in phone use seems like a natural necessity for modern life, but it’s also causing concern. The heavy use of these devices has consumers questioning their cellular habits. According to Google Trends, since 2004 searches for “cell phone addiction” have been rising.
Access to a smartphone is now easier than it has ever been. Still, the convenience comes at a price. The devices are carefully designed to be hard to put down. Through its colors, sounds, and vibrations, the technology purposely keeps its users engaged. According to former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris, features like “pull to refresh” were inspired by slot machines and other casino games. Designers and engineers meticulously develop every aspect of the device to create fanatic users.
The scariest part about Smartphone addiction is that it can affect our physical and mental health, our relationships and our productivity. America’s obsession with smartphones has even been compared to the obesity epidemic. ]That’s because, just like drug or gambling addictions, smartphones provide an escape from reality.
Mobile phone addiction is causing mental health problems
It is important to note that there has also been a rise in depression and suicide among teenagers in recent years, alongside phone addiction. Adolescent girls are particularly susceptible to the risk. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2010-2015, the suicide rate rose by 65%. At the same time, the rate of severe depression among girls increased by 58%. Many researchers believe the rise in suicides is a direct reflection of the negative effects of phone addiction.
The major question is how do we get to know we are addicted to our cell phones? When a person uses his/her cell phone most of the time, unable to cut back on cell phone usage, using cell phones as a solution to boredom, feeling anxiety or depression when your phone is out of your range, losing your relationships. Research says “when cell phone use becomes an addiction, the behavior becomes stressful”. Salvatore Insignia, a neurosurgeon at Northwell Health’s Neuroscience Institute in Manhasset, New York, considered that nonetheless that there is no solid proof between cell phone radiation and tumor risk but the possibility still exists. Adolescents are at high risk of being smartphone addicts.
Humans are, by nature, prone to distraction. With smartphones, we literally have a world of distractions at our fingertips. It’s time to acknowledge that our devices can negatively impact our lives — and we have to make a change.
The brain on “smartphone” is the same as the brain on cocaine: we get an instant high every time our screen lights up with a new notification. It’s all because of the dopamine, the feel-good chemical that gets released every time you do something you enjoy, like eating your favorite meal or getting a hundred likes on your latest Instagram post. Dopamine reinforces (and motivates) behavior that makes us feel good and, in turn, can create addiction.
The author is a research associate and sub-editor at GVS. She has previously worked with Express-News Islamabad. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.