Picture This #1: Sitting on the toilet, eyes glued tightly to the smartphone screen.*
Picture This #2: Hordes of a zombies hungering for entertainment blindly wobble through the streets, eyes locked onto their devices, bumping into others and falling into fountains.
This is the modern world as perceived by some; including the 38% of participating Americans that said they felt they were spending too long looking at their phones.
It seems like it could be becoming an issue. We’ve already covered the negative effects of social media and how harmful they can be but there are many other angles to the world of mobiles that can be too such as games and books. Are we addicted to phones like we are to cigarettes?
Smartphone addiction is typically synonymous with nomophobia (fear of being without a phone), but that doesn’t do it justice. This blanket term covers many issues such as online compulsions like buying, relationships (friendly or romantic), and information overload.
As of 2018 it isn’t listed in most official manuals of mental disorders, but its effects are still clear. It can be said to fuel anxiety, increase stress, loneliness, and depression, and disturb sleep. Why it isn’t universally recognised is complicated because experts say true addiction to it is rare.
Because of this, it should not be equated with smoking or other compulsive behaviours right away.
What zombifies us? Gaming studios are hiring psychologists to make games more compelling, challenging, and fun but also to draw you back in. This sounds seriously hostile but clever. We can all think of some addictive game that we’d love to play but it requires us to pay to progress.
In comparison to smoking, the human element is more passive as the chemicals hook you rather than some intelligent design.
There are several programs and apps to help people here. Of course, if the problem is life-altering or destructive it would be wise to seek advice from the NHS, but here are some notable ways to kick the screen:
- Popular phone brand One Plus has released a new piece of software called Zen Mode which allows you to lock yourself out of your phone in order to concentrate. I’ve used this and it is a great way to stop staring at the screen and start staring at life.
- An app that works in the same way as Zen Mode is Forest, which is an app that we mentioned in another article. It is a great app for getting some air time with a good incentive behind it.
- Finally, Space is an app that allows you to recapture the real world. You can interact with friends by putting your phone down. You can compare with your classmates and show them how hard you’ve worked.
Smoking has apps that can be used to aid recovery, but the best place to go is to your GP.
It seems that we have to be more measured. Comparing smoking and phone usage may be harmful. Smartphones don’t directly kill, and they have notable positives whereas cigarettes have nothing good about them. More research is needed.
*P.S. – that toilet thing
Dr Sara Jarvis – media GP and regular on the BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show – warns us about prolonged sitting on the toilet. It puts pressure on the lower rectum and can lead to piles.
Just so you know!
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Brown, S. (Aug 2019). What is OnePlus Zen Mode and how does it work? Android Authority. Retrieved from https://www.androidauthority.com/zen-mode-oneplus-987246/
Clay, R. (Jan 2012). Video game design and development. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from APA: https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2012/01/hot-careers,
Deloitte (2017). UK public are ‘glued to smartphones’ as device adoption reaches new heights, Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/press-releases/articles/uk-public-glued-to-smartphones.html
Dredge, S. (Jan 2018). Mobile Phone addiction? It’s time to take back control. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/27/mobile-phone-addiction-apps-break-the-habit-take-back-control
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Space (app) (2019). Space: Your Phone/Life Balance. Find Your Phone Life Balance. Retrieved from https://findyourphonelifebalance.com/
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The Public Purse (Jul 2019). Apps In Education. Retrieved from https://www.thepublicpurse.org.uk/ict/apps-in-education/