Mobile Device Addiction
To continue the conversation of mobile device use, I wanted to highlight some surprising facts about the connection between mobile device use and addiction.
After some research, I found out that excessive mobile device use can lead to a lack of face-to-face communication, lesser value in face-to-face conversations, depression, and anxiety according to an Elon University survey and a University of Illinois study. Researchers found that excessive use of mobile devices meant that people had more conversations via cell phones, computers, and tablets, and less conversations in-person. When people do have face-to-face conversations, they felt that there was a lack of substance to the conversation. This could be due to distractions. When I talk to someone and they stop the conversation to look at their phone, I feel like I don’t have their full attention. They suddenly lose interest in what I am saying and become distracted, but that also distracts me.
A great example, and something my husband and I are working on, is LISTENING. When I say listening, I really mean listening. It’s crazy how difficult listening actually can be. Try it out. When someone says something to you, try to spit it back out to them. Not as easy as you might expect. It gets more difficult when mobile devices are thrown into the mix, because not only are my husband and I trying to listen to each other, but we keep breaking our concentration with mobile device distractions. We start talking about work. My husband starts talking about a new project. His phone vibrates; an email. He takes a break to make sure the email is nothing urgent. In the time that he takes to look at his phone and swipe, he has already forgotten what he was talking about. He looks to me to say, “where was I?” I look back and say, “honestly, I have no idea because I got distracted by you getting distracted.”
Along with distractions, mobile devices can also affect a person emotionally and psychologically. Exhibit A: nomophobia. What is nomophobia, you ask? “Nomophobia is everywhere in industrialized nations. The term is an abbreviation for “no–mobile-phone phobia,” which was coined during a 2010 study by the UK Post Office. The Post Office commissioned YouGov, a research organization, to look at anxieties suffered by mobile phone users. The study found that nearly 53 percent of mobile phone users in Britain tend to be anxious when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage.” Psychology Today.
I’m guilty of using my cell phone to help ease my anxieties, especially in social situations. My cell phone has access to the internet at any time, so when I’m walking into a new place like a doctor’s office or a restaurant, I can map out my directions, and I can even research the location to see what it looks like to better help me figure out where to go. I also use my cell phone in social situations when I’m in a group of people, but things are awkward. Maybe I don’t know the group, maybe they are discussing something I’m unfamiliar with. Whatever the case, I can grab my phone and text someone (or pretend to) and it puts me at ease. If I’m walking alone in the mall or waiting around for someone, I might also call a friend just so I don’t look or feel lonely (and again, sometimes I pretend when a stranger walks past).
I know I’m not the only person who eases their anxieties with the swipe of an iPhone. But is that really healthy? Rather than using the iPhone as a crutch, I should (and you should!) be easing away from relying on my phone in situations that make me uncomfortable. With depression and anxiety being linked to exsessive mobile device use, I’m definitely going to limit my reliance on my phone (or I’m going to try, at least!)