Have you ever stayed up all night binge-watching your favorite shows on the Internet? Or maybe slept at three o’clock in the morning every day because you check Instagram every thirty seconds?
Everyone has experienced some form of reliance on their mobile devices, even if some people don’t want to admit it. It feels like you have been tethered to your phone by some sort of invisible rope, and it seems impossible to cut the bond.
But are you actually addicted to your mobile device, the same way some are addicted to drugs or alcohol?
Well, in order to answer that question, we need to know why people get addicted to mobile devices.
When we use our phones, we use them for a wide variety of reasons from texting friends to watching videos. When we do these things, dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the brain’s reward system, is released in the brain. As a result, every time we use our phones, our brain feels like it is being rewarded, so we always want to keep on going back to our mobile devices in order to get that feeling of reward.
According to Vox, adults spend an average of three hours and thirty minutes a day on their phones. Clearly, a significant portion of an average adult’s day is spent on their mobile devices, and according to an American Addiction Center resource, addiction is classified as “the repeated involvement with a substance or activity, despite the substantial harm it now causes, because that involvement was pleasurable and/or valuable.”
A harmful impact that phone addiction has on everyday life is its impact on sleep.
A study on six hundred and ten medical students at King Abdulaziz University provided the participants with a sheet to fill out information about their phone usage and other problems correlated to the dependency on mobile devices.
The results of the experiment showed 73.4% of participants spent more than five hours on their phones per day, and a higher mobile phone usage was correlated to lower subjective sleep quality and sleep latency. Furthermore, the study also correlated higher mobile phone usage with a lower GPA and academic performance.
Phone addiction can also cause other negative effects on the human body.
For example, a study conducted in a classroom in Shanghai, China tested for a correlation between mobile phone usage and self-esteem. They had the students fill out an anonymous questionnaire that consisted of some personal questions. Out of the students that did use a mobile device, the students that spent more time on their mobile devices had lower self-esteem.
The researchers conducting this study then explained how people with lower self-esteem seek a form of self-protection through apps on their phones, such as social media. As a result, people with lower self-esteem continue to spend more time on their mobile devices in order to gain that continuous boost of self-esteem.
The effects of phone addiction can be minimized using different methods. For example, there are programs in your phone, like parental controls, that can limit the amount of time the user is able to use a certain application in a day.
Furthermore, it is helpful to turn off notifications and put away your mobile device when you are performing a task that doesn’t require a phone, like cooking or sleeping. By doing this, there is a lesser chance that you will think about your phone, and it can reduce the temptation to use it.
The use of mobile devices has definitely affected many people of all ages and locations. However, is our daily usage of phones considered an addiction?
Well, the answer to this question varies from person to person, and the negative effects that a phone addiction can inflict on a person’s everyday life can be truly distracting and unhealthy. But no matter how dependent you are on your mobile device, everybody can definitely benefit from reduced screen time, and fortunately, there are many different ways of minimizing the amount of time spent on your phone to promote a healthier and more productive lifestyle.