17.05.2015

Smart phone addiction

A lot of us will admit that we all check our smartphone compulsively.  Published sources have indicated the following habits among hand phone users:

  • • 70% said they check their smartphone within an hour of getting up.
  • • 56% check their phone within an hour of going to sleep.
  • • 48% check over the weekend, including on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • • 51% check continuously during vacation.
  • • 44% said they would experience “a great deal of anxiety” if they lost their phone and couldn’t replace it for a week.

We should question the amount of time that people are spending with the new technology, the apparent preoccupation.When you start seeing drivers texting, even though clearly knowing they are endangering their lives and the lives of others, we really have to ask what is so compelling about this new medium.

Technology is overtaking our daily lives. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicitycareer or economic status, a majority of us owns a smartphone. The phone, computer, tablet and other high tech devices have become not just an object, but for many a best friend.

Many suffer from anxiety if they lose their phone, even if only for a few minutes. We rely on it to do everything, from checking bank balances to sharing photos. We can carry out a plethora of daily tasks, right from the palm of our hand.

At the dinner table, it is becoming the norm to constantly check for texts, emails, tweets and Face book updates. In a darkened theater, there are always several who are multi-tasking while watching the movie.

Over dinner, in church, while driving, and even when carrying on a face to face conversation, the smartphone is guaranteed to keep you in tune and in touch.

The “I-must-have-my-phone-with-me-at-all-times” mindset has become such a real problem, there’s now a name coined for the fear of being without your phone: nomophobia- as innomo(bile) phone-phobia -  that rush of anxiety and fear when you realised you are disconnected – out of the loop with friends, family, work and the world.

This lack of connection can be the result of no connection, a dead battery, forgetting your phone or worst of all: the horror of losing your phone.

We consider the smartphone an extension of ourselves, a best friend, even a soul mate. So the loss can be similar to losing a best friend.

Another interesting aspect here is that being without a phone connection is social in nature,which can lead to abuse. As our culture becomes ever more tech savvy and tech hungry, phone-free zones will become more and more common.

The same thing seems to be happening to the cell phone. It is now common to see public areas now displaying “No cell phone use” signs.  This is because common courtesy is often thrown out the window when we are on the phone.

For many of us this will be a welcome respite. For others, it will be a source of intense stress and anxiety. So the question now is, when does cell phone obsession become an outright addiction?

A majority of us probably already know the symptoms:

Feeling anxious whenever you do not have your phone with you.

Constantly checking the phone for new messages, with the compulsion to respond immediately.

• Not listeninga lot of us have no idea what the person in front of you is talking about as we keep checking Face book page, tweets and texts.

If checking and rechecking one’s phone comes as naturally as breathing or feel anxious or restless any time the phone is not on or near, one may have a technology addiction.

Here are some things which can help:

No texting while driving.  This is not only for you, but also for the benefit and safety of others. If you need to text — do it before or after you drive. Risking your life just to give a quick response is beyond foolish.

When going to bed, it may be fun to tweet, keep up with high school friends on Face book and buy things on eBay just before sleeping, but we are trying to overcome an addiction here. Shut it down and get some shut eye. Or turn the phone off – completely off – before falling asleep.

When you are with friends, turn your phone off. Nothing bad will happen and you will not miss out on an once-in-a-lifetime chance. Each time you do this, it will become easier.

Finally when one is able to manage the above without suffering a panic attack, shortness of breath or dizziness, then try leaving the phone at home.  Spend a day without technology at your fingertips. Do this in small doses, starting off with an hour or two and then progressing to a whole day. Believe it or not, the world will not come to an end.

Again, anything can be abused, and moderation is the key. Use and appreciate the technology that is available right at your fingertips without letting it rule your life or hinder those around you.

This scribe believes in moderation – even in the use of modern technology. Despite being an owner of a smart phone, it is only being used to minimal necessity, and even then, not in public or when interacting with friends and working colleagues.