Last week I was scrolling through the website of a newly launched social app connected when I saw the link for this article about Smartphone addiction. I realize that unintentionally, we have all become so used to intervention of smart phones in our lives that we didn’t realize how gradually but systematically it imprisoned our lives.
Our life virtually revolves around this gadget which for all practical purpose has become an extension of our limbs. It doesn’t matter whatever we are doing – purchasing groceries, medicines, the latest electronic device that is rolled, seeking appointments, filing reports, preparing for presentation, or just passing time trying our hands at the latest games offered online.
Smartphones have become ubiquitous. Now, people with every economic background have custom made models for them.
When Smartphones were first launched, only few could afford it. But not anymore. The cost of technology has a tendency to breach the lowest price barriers, and that is what happened with Smartphones too. You will find the same device although with varying features clutched within the adoring hands of a CEO, Editor in Chief, TV reporter, college student, the electrician fixing your household fuses, or the housewife busy checking the latest recipe of chickpea curry on the YouTube.
People’s obsession with smartphones has reached to the epidemic proportion. And those dealing with smartphone addiction should immediately start by hacking their internal operating systems. You should have the reality check how often you use your smartphone? Most of the people don’t — until they discover Screen Time, Apple’s new feature that tracks usage and sets parameters for how often you use certain apps. Believe me, when I checked in on myself, I was horrified.
The most disturbing part about smartphone addiction is its capacity to adversely affect yur physical and mental health, and also your relationships and your productivity. Smartphone addiction is no different from drug or gambling addictions, because it provides an escape route from reality. Drugs have the same effect on our psyche by giving you a temporary relief from the realities of life.
Humans are genetically made prone to distraction. And with smartphones in our hands, we literally have an entire world of distractions at our disposal. It’s about time to realise that our devices can create havoc in our lives — and we need to make a change and that too sooner.
How Your Brain React to Smartphones
Mobile phones were essentially used as communication tools, but now they have evolved with features such as GPS, cameras, fitness trackers, gaming consoles, and the list just goes on. We are virtually dependent on our devices for everything — while waiting in line at a grocery store scrolling through the news, to filing our income taxes or controlling the air conditioner temperature. It’s not as if we just use our smartphones for everything — we actually rely on them.
The addiction for smartphone is the same as that for cocaine: giving us an instant high every time our screen lights up with a fresh notification. It’s all thanks to the feel good hormone dopamine that gets released every time you eat your favourite pizza, or get hundred likes on your recent Instagram post. Dopamine motivates us to behave in a way that makes us feel good and, in turn, can create addiction.
One of the most damaging things that happened after having access to a constant flow of information has been destruction of attention spans. Can you believe just a few years ago, a widely publicized study came to this conclusion that now an ordinary goldfish can focus longer than human beings. This is the result of massive overuse of smartphones.
The buck doesn’t stop here – by excessive use of technology, we have completely transformed how we communicate and interact with other people. Instead of opting for real face time with the people in our lives, we conveniently hide behind a screen. Technology is undoubtedly a useful tool for keeping us connected, but we need to be careful with when as how often, and how frequently we use it.
Choose the Right Time and A Place
I will share a personal experience that I was part of last December. I took five of our colleagues on a hiking trip to Jullu valley in the Himachal Pradesh. We were in a deep dense forest and literally had zero access to mobile service or the internet. In the beginning, everyone felt uncomfortable about not being able to check in online, but after a few days, we all realized how blessed we were to fully disconnect like that and enjoy the serene environment without any interference. Life without smartphones allowed us to connect more with each other and share the amazing camaraderie.
I’m not implying we should disconnect with our smartphones and do away with our WiFi. It’s absolutely fine using the technology available to us, but when our excessive smartphone usage begins affecting our health and relationships with others, that’s when we have a problem. There has to be a time and place to use devices and technology, but more importantly, we should also be aware about when to put them away.
Although, people are generally aware of when it’s appropriate to use their smartphones, such as during meetings or online chats, or maybe on their first date. The bad thing is that those people will still use their cell phones anyway. That’s where addiction comes into picture: they know they are controlled by their devices but they can’t resist the temptation to pick up their phones.
Go for Smartphone Rehab
It will be interesting to mention that there are countries like France with comparatively fewer cell phones. People have their smartphones, but they’re not constantly glued to their screens all day. You will rarely see someone walking down the street with phone in hand. It’s so refreshing to see that it’s not the technology that control people’s lives there unlike in most other parts of the world.