Smartphones have been a big help to us in terms of productivity, communication, entertainment, and convenience. But sometimes we go overboard and forget about the real world and our responsibilities with other aspects of our life.
Excessive phone usage is rooted in something deeper: human connection and the need to monitor how other humans run their lives. This is rooted in our evolutionary past since people back then needed input from others for help to achieve a sense of identity and to attain acceptance in doing behavior deemed appropriate.
Last 2019, an average US adult spent 2 hours and 55 minutes on a phone. Due to the pandemic and the rise of dependency on technology in 2021, it has not reached five to six hours on a daily basis. Smartphone users are expected to rise in the future, reaching seven billion by 2024.
Is smartphone addiction real?
Smartphones have changed society and human interaction You might be considered to have phone addiction if receiving constant notifications from social media gives you a mini high or if you have lost or broken your phone and your initial reaction was run to the nearest phone and business computer repair shop to have it fixed as soon as possible. A day without your phone would make you feel empty for not having anything to do all day.
The sudden obsession with being on your smartphone all the time didn’t happen overnight. It happened gradually through the years when we received a surge of dopamine in our bodies. Our brains release neurotransmitters called dopamine that make us feel good.
Certain activities like shopping, eating a certain food, bonding with your loved ones, or anything you enjoy can release dopamine to your body. This pattern of feeling good creates addiction and makes it difficult for us to stop entirely.
That’s what probably happened to your excessive phone usage. For the first few months, you experienced a bit of dopamine as you scrolled through Instagram, posted a photo online and received praises through notifications, watched videos on YouTube and Tiktok, and played for hours on your mobile games.
Effects of smartphone addiction
Increases stress and anxiety
A study in 2016 found a correlation between high social media usage and depression among US young adults. Since teenagers and young adults tend to get pressured and compare themselves with pictures they see online, it brings a sense of loneliness, stress, anxiety, and even depression.
A disturbed sleep
Too much phone use can impact your sleeping pattern since you might be tempted to use your phone late at night. Lack of sleep can result in lesser ability to think clearly, foggy memory, and impact your cognitive skills.
Self-absorption or narcissism
People who spend their time on social media tend to display traits close to narcissism since they spend a lot of effort looking good for selfies and sharing and tweeting a lot of their personal lives. The praises some get from other people online boosts this behavior more, and they end up relying on online validation.
Trouble completing responsibilities
People who can’t stop using their phones tend to get buried in their responsibilities and obligations such as homework, laundry, and office projects since they get occupied with social media, online chats, or playing games.
Isolation from the real world
Since you’re too focused on your online personality, game ranking, or social media friends, you forget about the real world. You might hear family members and other loved ones expressing a bit of concern for you since you haven’t been giving them some time or you’re too focused on your device even when you are in an outside social setting.
How to reduce it
Understand the triggers to reach your phone
Try to ponder on why you use your phone a lot. Are you entertained by media? Or does it soothe your mind when you play games? Instead of relying on the internet, maybe it is possible to find other healthier alternatives. You can turn off notifications so you won’t be tempted to check everything that is happening online.
Come up with other things to occupy your time
Maybe you find solace and some sort of relaxation when you’re scrolling through your phone but it might be an unhealthy way to kill time if that is the only thing you’re focused on. Try to find hobbies and other interests that you can do like cooking, reading, or strolling in the park.
Balance your phone usage
It is not a bad thing to use your phone but there should be a limit. Maybe you need it because you have online classes, online shops and customers to tend to, or business meetings and conferences. You might also find it as a safe space to vent out your thoughts via blog or Twitter. But you have to find the fine line between normalcy and obsession. Try to balance your time and do other things once you have finished the things you’re obligated to do online. You can also use applications that monitor your screen time for social media, games, and other recreational sites.
Reach out to real people
This might be tricky since the coronavirus is still at large so your only way of communication with your loved ones is through a mobile phone. If you are far from your family and friends, set a time to give them a call via landline or video call on social media platforms. You can also ask them to meet up and have a snack outside, of course, while observing safety protocols with the pandemic.
Using your phone is not a bad thing but spending the whole day online is a different issue. You need to balance the time between your online and personal life. If it helps, maybe you can delete social apps and set limitations. You can give yourself an hour or two every day for social media and nothing beyond that. It will not be easy to decrease especially when it has become a habit, it will take time but you will get there.