Have you ever looked around the room during any moment of time and noticed the number of people that are staring at their cell phones? At a restaurant, in a classroom, at the movies, etc. There has been a drastic increase in how often society as a whole spends on technology, but there is no doubt that the focus has primarily been on cell phones. I even noticed in myself how much I look at my cell phone, and this is the core reason why I picked this topic to write about, as I wanted to explore the impact this has on our mental health. Some of the negative ways we use our cell phones are out of boredom, to fill our egos on social media, avoid social interaction, and to procrastinate. How so? Many young adults’ self-esteem is based off of social media, with the number of “likes” they receive on a photo, and comparing their lives to everyone else. When we have nothing to do, the first thing we do is look at our cell phones, because we need constant stimulation. The longer we become accustomed to something, especially as powerful as a smartphone, the harder it gets to live without it, which impacts us in ways we may not even fully realize. We have access to our cell phones 24/7. I say it’s like a body part, it’s attached to us wherever we go, and we never had to find out for ourselves how we behave/react when were without it for a long period of time. Mental health complications are increasing among young adults who have a cell phone addiction. Addiction can take the form of constant preoccupation and distraction, which may lead to anxiety. Anxiety can increase among young adults when they do not have constant access to their cell phones.
Here are the reasons why you might be addicted to your cell phone.
#1 You can’t go longer than a few minutes to a half hour without checking your phone. How many of us scroll through the apps, close it, then open it again a minute later?
#2 Using your phone too much can alter your mood or change your state of mind. For example, posting photos to receive a certain amount of likes to boost self-esteem. Do you look at your phone constantly when you’re lonely or bored? If you are struggling with depression, stress, or anxiety, for example, your excessive smartphone use might be a way to self-soothe rocky moods. But excessive cell phone usage can make it worse, increasing anxiety when someone didn’t text back, someone left you on “Read,” didn’t get a lot of likes on your photo, etc. Instead, find healthier and more effective ways of managing your moods, such as practicing relaxation techniques.
#3 Smartphones and slot machines have something in common. According to Health.com, the anticipation you feel whenever you pick up your phone. (Has the person that I like texted back?) Psychologists have a term for that irresistible feeling of unpredictability: intermittent rewards. And guess what other common devices encourage addictive behaviors by preying on that sense that something exciting could happen at any moment? Slot machines. Smartphones are basically slot machines we keep in our pockets.
#5. Reality Vs. Fiction. We present ourselves in the best way possible online. The best picture and best profile. We also can take all the time in the world to message someone with exactly what you want to say. In person, we don’t have time to think what we want to say. Communicating mainly through your phone can make you feel discouraged to interact as much with people in your surroundings.
#6. Do you or know anyone that texts and drives? They are putting themselves and other lives in danger just to send a text message. They would be addiction.
So what’s the solution?
There’s an app called BreakFree that monitors your phone usage, tallying up the number of times your unlock the screen, how many hours you spend on your phone, which apps you use the most. The app then gives you a daily addiction score. This app also sends you notifications that alert you when you exceed a certain amount of time on your phone. Start off slow with deleting apps you don’t use. Force yourself to not check social media for an hour, then two hours, three hours, etc. Realize that you won’t be missing out on much by not having your phone on you at all times. Don’t bring your phone to bed with you, leave it across the room plugged in. Turn off your phone at work, during class. As long as we are self-aware about how much we use our cell phones, we can manage it better.