We are always connected. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, our smart phones are normally no more than an arm-width away. The average person checks their phone 110 times a day. We have become increasingly loyal to these little devices, now possessed by most of the world population. We are promised connectivity at the press of button. Time and space is no longer the issue it used to be. An email can reach one side of the world to another in approximately 0.35 seconds. And phones are only becoming smaller, faster and more technologically advanced. Allowing us, the consumers, to become more and more reliant. Our usage of smart phones has tripled in the last decade. Its no surprise that the affect of smart phones on the human brain has been an increasingly researched topic by psychologists. So how exactly do smartphones affect our wellbeing?
With mental health issues such as depression and anxiety on the rise, especially amongst younger people, some psychologists point towards the constant connectivity as one of the leading culprits. In particular, the cognitive affect on young, more malleable minds has always been the concern of parents.
64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011. This increasing use of smartphone usage has been a particular trend amongst young adults between the ages of 18-29 yrs. But the age of mobile users is creeping younger by the year. According to Pew Internet & American Life Project, children from as young as 12-years old are now becoming frequent owners of smartphones. Raising from 63% in fall of 2006 and then to 71% in early 2008.
This need is particularly linked to problems sleeping during the night – due to the demand of always needed to be reachable, no matter when or where. Behavioral addictions can come as a result, creating a compulsive need to stay connected, send messages and scroll through endless newsfeeds – lowering our standard of sleep and in some cases leading towards insomnia. This occurs for both adults as well as young people.
Giving up your phone to avoid all of this may seem like a daunting and impossible task, however the good news is you don’t have to. There are certain methods you can use to curve your Smartphone addiction. For example, don’t use your phone as an alarm. This may sound impractical, although it is important to remember as soon as it’s off, most of us head straight to social media, bombarding our brains the moment we wake up. Another tip is to place your phone on airplane mode during important times throughout the day such as dinner. Having your phone out at dinner is not only unnecessary but can also be considered very rude when in the company of others. It may seem tempting to reach for it the moment you hear that buzz but remember you are the mast of your phone not the other way around.
I will leave you with this inspiring quote from the legendary director Steven Spielberg which I think perfectly sums up our complicated relationship with cell phones.
“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.” – Steven Spielberg