Company and Culture

2022-07-13

Smartphones - The Dark Side: Addiction, Health Issues and Disconnecting From Reality

This article explores the dangers, the controversy and everything that comes with such an addictive new tool: a smart phone.

This article follows on from The iPhone, a revolutionary & magical product, that reinvented the phone. In this Part 2 article, we explore the flip side of the coin; the dangers, the controversy and everything that comes with such an addictive new tool.
Smartphones have become such a versatile and pivotal tool for many and have created so many positive changes it is almost unimaginable for there to also be negative aspects. However, there is always more than may initially appear.
It has been stated that there are now 6.64 Billion Smartphone users worldwide meaning that there are only 1.11 Billion individuals who do not have a smartphone in the world. It has become abnormal to not see an individual interacting with their smartphone, look around you, how many people do you see not on their phone?

Phone Addiction

When we think of addiction we do not necessarily think of being addicted to our phones, however, phone addiction is a very real and dangerous topic. In a recent study it has also shown that individuals now spend an average of 5-6 hours on their device, not including work-related screen time. Phone addiction is a very real and very dangerous issue if not addressed.
Phone addiction is such a real topic that phone-related fears have been named and some are now part of the dictionary. It is also a trend which has been on the rise since 2017 according to Google Trends.
Phone Addiction related Terms Nomophobia - fear or worry at the idea of being without your mobile phone or unable to use it: Phantom Vibrations - is a false perception that one’s phone is vibrating when it is actually not. Textaphrenia - fear of not being able to send or receive text messages
Phone Additction Statistics Trendhunter carried out a study and found that:
    80% of Smartphone users check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up.
    Individuals check their Smartphones on average 150 times per day.
    75% of people are no less than 5ft away from their device at all times.
    40% of people spend more time connecting with people online than in real life
Have you ever had the feeling of needing to respond to someone’s text, email or call immediately? Phones and notifications are now a stimuli, individuals have choices about how and when they respond to those stimuli. However, if individuals have an unhealthy relationship or suffer with an addiction to their device, they may feel stressed or anxious about having to respond or react immediately.

The Dark Side of Smartphones

Smartphones have had a powerful influence in making our lives more efficient and consequently more convenient, however this access to convenience at all times has several negative repercussions, here are just a few.
Connectivity One of the biggest advantages of smartphones is keeping individuals connected, it also has benefits in aspects of meeting individuals online, exposing us to connect with people we wouldn’t be able to otherwise without this tool.
However, now, when individuals are together in real life, usually individuals are still checking their phones, replying to a text or making a call, rather than being present and in the moment with the person they are trying to connect with in person.
The increased use of smartphones for connectivity has also meant that more people are using messaging and emailing platforms to connect with individuals rather than calling, and speaking to individuals face to face.
There are actually more aspects for miscommunication from a text or email. Face to face, or even on a voice call you are able to gauge an individual’s tones, gestures, moods, and face to face you are able to assess body language, gestures, and facial expressions.
Health Overuse and general use of smartphones have been linked to many health issues, some of those issues are;
Strain on the Body Excessive use, incorrectly holding a phone and looking down at your phone can lead to - Neck Strain, muscle knots and spasms, this can also lead to shoulder and arm issues such as carpal tunnel.
Stress Smartphones have been linked to increased stress for two reasons, the content being viewed or seen on phones and the act of checking one’s device can lead to triggering a stress response which releases cortisol into the body.
Sleep Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. Healthy sleep also helps the body remain healthy and stave off diseases. Lack of sleep means the brain cannot function properly and consequently lead to a decrease in one’s ability to concentrate, think clearly, and process memories.
Since individuals’ use of smartphones has increased dramatically this means that individuals are now being exposed to increased ‘Blue Light’. Short-wavelength blue lights are emitted by smartphones, TVs, laptops and tablets.
Exposures to these wavelengths disrupt circadian rhythms: “the internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours” this then leads to individuals’ disruption of sleep having an adverse effect on the list above
Like everything in life, balance is key.
Mental Health Smartphones have had an adverse effect on individuals’ mental health in many ways, the access of information can overwhelm individuals, and the content that individuals are able to access and see can cause anxiety, depression and loneliness.
People’s mental health is also being adversely affected due to lack of face-to-face interaction, and lack of physical exercise, lack of doing things, such as going for a walk, or going outside. Instead, individuals are glued to their phones, missing out on the whole beauty that is on their doorstep.
Does this mean you should just not use your smartphone? No, there are small changes each individual can make to improve their relationship with their phone and generally improve their health if being affected by the negative effects from excessive use or phone addictions.
Balance Having a positive relationship with your smartphone will help everyone and those around you. We know smartphones are powerful and amazing tools when used correctly. One’s relationship with their device is unique, however, small changes can be made to help create and maintain balance and improve these relationships for the better.

Small Changes to Smartphone Uses with Positive Benefits

    Limit or reduce screen time. Try to reduce and limit the use of your device and certain apps on a daily basis.
    Use functions on your phone such as do not disturb, and turning off notifications allowing individuals to have real downtime.
    Put your phone down an hour before going to bed, read a book, meditate, and give your mind a chance to unwind.
    Leave your phone in your bag or pocket when socializing face to face with individuals
    Set aside time to go outside, get back in touch with nature, do something physical outdoors.
These small changes will lead to improved sleep, improved mental health, better connections and general improved all-round well-being.

Summary

We live in a technologically driven world where we are surrounded by automation and increased uses of technological devices in daily life, this is something that is only going to increase. Therefore it is important to remember whilst these devices and technologies have so many positive influences and benefits to the world, balance is still key and there is still so much beauty and positive, engaging elements to life which do not come from a smartphone.
We are all guilty of using our phones when we shouldn’t, however identifying and making adjustments to make sure that this stays healthy and positive means that individuals can benefit from these amazing technological advancements whilst maintaining a healthy well-being. As with many things, it is all about balance.
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