Do you check your email every five minutes on your phone? Do you reach for it during a board meeting or church services when all phones should be put in silent mode? Then you may have caught the fever.
Experts say if you respond to emails, blackberry, facebook, twitter or whatsapp messages at night and you feel disconnected when you wake up with no message from the various networking sites on your mobile app, you are a smart phone addict.
Worse still, you might as well be suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder — an anxiety disorder that is characterised by recurrent obsessions and/or repetitive behaviours — such as checking your smart apps religiously!
It is not only you. Experts say America and South Korea, with over 2.5 million smart phone addicts, are currently battling with this addiction among their student population.
They say it has reduced the mental and academic performance of their students who are ardent users of mobile devices.
According to a Rutgers University study, being addicted to your Blackberry is similar to being addicted to drugs. The study authors add that as many as 40 per cent of smart phone users could be described as being addicted to the internet or some form of mobile technology.
The study states, “No wonder, the device was coined “Black or Crackberry.” Chatting on mobile devices is a tough habit to break. Forty-nine per cent of people say they keep their email devices nearby when they sleep so they can listen for new messages.
Anything can be abused, including smart phones, says psychologist, Dr. Laura Martin who wrote the book, “Breaking Technology,” in which she describes how her addiction to smart phone almost took her life in a road traffic accident in 2012.
Flashing back to before the unfortunate incident, Martin says, “I used to check my smart phone compulsively. And the more I used it, the more I had the urge to look at it. In the office, while walking my kids to school, in meetings.
“Even while making breakfast. Sometimes, it is in my hand before I even know what I’m searching for. Sometimes, I tap the screen absent mindedly — looking at my email, a local blogger, my calendar, and Twitter. I was holding on to it every minute. I was even typing on it when I was hit by a car right in my neigbourhood.”
It is a modern compulsion, according to another 2012 survey by the Pew Research Centre, which says 46 per cent of all adults now own a smart phone not because they need it but because they want it.
Also, a research by Leslie Perlow, a professor at the Harvard Medical School, which involved 1,600 managers and professionals, found that 70 per cent of the managers checked their smart phones within an hour of getting up, 56 per cent checked theirs within an hour of going to sleep, while 48 per cent checked over the weekend.
Sixty per cent of the professionals in various fields say they experience “a great deal of anxiety” if they lost their smart phones and could not replace them for a week.
Perlow says, “The amount of time that people are spending with the new technology, the apparent preoccupation, raises the question “why?” When you start seeing that people have to text when they’re driving, knowing that it is six times more injurious than driving while drunk and they clearly know that they’re endangering their lives and the lives of others. We really have to ask what is so compelling about this new medium.”
As much as checking email constantly and responding immediately may show that you are on top of things in your office, business or relationship, experts warn that running at the pace of these technological devices could be injurious to one’s health.
Besides creating a compulsion, smart phones pose other dangers to our mental life, says psychologist, Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.
He says, “The smart phone, through its small size, ease of use, proliferation of free or cheap apps, and constant connectivity, changes our relationship with computers in a way that goes well beyond what we experienced with laptops.
“That’s because people keep their smart phones near them from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed; and throughout that time, the devices provide an almost continuous stream of messages and alerts, as well as easy access to a myriad of compelling information sources.”
He adds that, “By design, it’s an environment of almost constant interruptions and distractions. The smart phone, more than any other gadget, steals from us the opportunity to maintain our attention, to engage in contemplation and reflection, or even to be alone with our thoughts.”
Corroborating his view, an addiction expert, Dr. Michael Dow on PsychologyToday, says this addiction frustrates the brain and the nervous system.
Dow notes that too much smart phone use not only causes people to disconnect from reality, but smart phone withdrawal can cause physical symptoms like anxiety, insomnia and even depression.
“The more connected we are, the less we’re connecting. And it can actually create a lot of cortisone in the brain and in the body. That stress hormone is actually cardio-toxic. So it’s actually very bad not only for your mental health and your relationships, but it can also be bad for your biological health as well,” he adds.
They need not say more. If the time you spend texting, emailing or “pinging” on your smart phones on weekend rivals that which you spend with your spouse, children or friends, listen to the experts, it is time to break the addiction.
Have a tech-free weekend!
Culled from www.punchng.com