Smartphone addiction is becoming more prevalent and overwhelming, claims a latest study, with 47% of Americans surveyed claiming they are addicted to their smartphone. This addiction can affect our productivity, brain function, and work-life balance. Social anxiety and loneliness are also associated with phone use, which is linked to the fact that we send too many text messages, but do not talk enough to each other. Therefore, at Chroneering® we wanted to establish a framework for consequences of excessive smartphone use and solutions.
74% of Americans feel uncomfortable leaving their phone at home, because on average, they check their phone 58 times a day, and 48% of them say they feel a sense of panic or anxiety when their phone battery drops below 20%. It all stems from the fact that we constantly want to communicate with others digitally and unconsciously consider this as a moment of relaxation that makes us feel good and calm when we use our phones. But on the contrary, psychologists concluded that the number of hours spent on the cell phone is proportionate to the level of anxiety.
Some warning signs that we can cite to identify this addiction are nighttime sleep problems, surfing the Internet without paying attention, the feeling of having to look at the phone every two minutes, not being able to go anywhere without having the phone next to us, or the loss of interest in activities that have nothing to do with the phone. Furthermore, emotional instability is another possible sign pointing to mobile addiction, being at a more sensitive time in our lives and hiding behind the smartphone.
Thus, a team of psychologists from the University of Derby and Nottingham Trent University in their study to determine the relationship between smartphone use and personality traits showed that people with emotional instability and especially with anxiety and depression disorders are more likely to suffer from phone addiction.
Constant notifications affect us in such a way that, according to a study from the University of California, Irvine, it can take up to 23 minutes to get back to the task we were previously doing after a notification forces us to turn our attention to our phone. Considering the average executive touches their phone 2,617 times a day, checks email 74 times a day, and receives 46 smartphone notifications a day, it's likely they do not spend any time in flow at all. Whether you follow the notification you receive or not, your train of thought is interrupted by noticing the notification, processing it, and deciding whether or not to act on it.
Recent estimates have shown that while each task switch takes only a tenth of a second, it can cause up to 40% productivity loss if you make many task switches in a day. For an executive who spends several hours a day in flow, that number could be even higher.
As with any other tool, the benefits depend on how you use it. We are able to accomplish much more when technology is our slave and not our master, so check every app on your phone and turn off as many notifications as you can spare.
The key to coping with this digital world is to develop a healthy and sustainable habit of using technology, as completely giving up screen time would not be practical. However, experts agree that we do not have to completely disconnect from our cell phone, just relax every now and then and build a lasting relationship with it. Here are some tips on how to achieve this gradually:
Nowadays it is plausible that a child is affected by this addiction at an early age, as there are children who practically grow up with a smartphone as a toy, given to them to keep them quiet and entertained. By accustoming children from such early ages, they naturally become addicted, becoming a habit. Therefore, like any other habit, it is difficult to change, especially during puberty.
Most children are attracted to as much screen time as they are allowed (games, notifications, text messages...), which boosts dopamine, a hormone that makes them feel happy. Thus, we can say that one of the causes of the negative effects of smartphones on children's development may lie in an unexpected place. An article in The Atlantic states that before parents worry about their children's smartphone use, they should think about their own first, as this behavior lays the foundation for how their children will interact with technology.
Both parents, considering the image they project to their children and how they communicate responsible smartphone use to them, and public health agencies should take these findings into account when developing guidelines on smartphone use and sleep hygiene. In addition, physicians, parents, and educators should be aware of the widespread addiction to smartphones and be attuned to the potentially far-reaching effects of smartphones on sleep. In the end, all of us should be aware that smartphone innovations take up more time and are more likely to capture users' attention and lead to addiction.