In this day and age, technology is all around us. In our cars, on our streets, on our desks, in our ears and in our pockets. Technology has a part to play, big or small, in nearly every facet of our lives, and that fact most definitely applies to smartphones. A survey conducted by the Consumer Technology Association in August 2018, showed that 86% of their sample (people aged 18+ in Canada) owned a smartphone . And yet, the number of people all around the world that use smartphones is continuing to grow at a very fast rate. These little gadgets are taking over the world one person at a time and nearly everyone has embraced them; but there is still concern.
As most of us will know, smartphones can be very useful. They enable us to do so many things that we could never dream to do without them. They enable us to stay connected to people even when we’re not with them, absorb information on anything whenever we so desire and photograph or record anything at anytime. But don’t be tricked into thinking that this wonder tool is without flaw; nothing is. Smartphones and smartphone culture have introduced a new disease into so many people’s minds; it’s called nomophobia. Nomophobia is the fear of being away from your phone, and is quite similar to FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out. Addiction and overuse of the internet has propelled this phobia into the masses , making the experience of seeing hundreds of people looking down at their phones while doing nearly anything a normality. One of the most badly hit groups of people though, are teenagers. A survey conducted by Common Sense Media in 2016, showed that 50% of teens felt that they were addicted to their smartphones and 72% said that they felt like they had to immediately respond to notifications from their phone. Then another, more recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2018, found that 45% of teenagers used the internet almost constantly with 95% of teens in general had access to a smartphone . The current generation of teenagers is already hooked on the use of smartphones, the byproduct of growing up with them, and the next generation is virtually guaranteed to get it even worse. But how do you know if someone’s addicted?
There are numerous ways to figure out if someone’s addicted to their smartphone. One of them is the over-reliance on virtual relationships instead of real-life ones. While they may seem fun and require significantly less work to maintain, online relationships are simply not a substitute for the ones in real-life. Another is information overload, such as constant video watching or web surfing, which can cause you to ignore other parts of real-life such as having a hobby. These compulsions and many others, such as the online compulsion to game, gamble or online shop, can cause lots of serious mental health problems. Those problems can consist of but are not limited to the withdrawal from family and/or social life, increased irritability, insomnia, increased anxiety level and feelings of unease whenever not using a smartphone. Those problems can also help develop even more detrimental side-effects, such as dramatically increased feelings of loneliness, depression and attention deficit disorders .
This all might sound scary, especially if these points apply to you, but don’t worry; there are two main ways you can help yourself. The first one is to recognize your triggers. Why are you reaching for your phone? Is it because you hear a notification? Is it because you feel bored or lonely? Whatever it is, when you hear or feel it, instead of reaching for your phone, attempt a relaxation technique . Simply deep-breathing for one minute can calm you and put you in a better state of mind, which could easily help you avoid reaching for your phone. And second, build your real-life relationships. Talk with your friends and family members in-person, go to a bar or restaurant with them or simply go on a walk with them. Use your phone as one way to maintain your relationships, but make sure it isn’t your only one. By doing these things, you can stop hurting yourself with your smartphone and use it to make you a better person. Sadly though, not enough people around the world and even in our community are doing these things and smartphone addiction continues to affect many people and their families; so does the good that smartphones bring really worth the bad that comes with it?