Cell phones are an integral part of daily life. People from all classes, genders, age groups, and regions use their phones regularly and are becoming increasingly dependent on them. While cell phones are indeed very helpful and can greatly simplify life, users must be careful to prevent themselves from getting addicted to their phones.
Cell phone addiction is an escalating problem. Contrary to what many people think, addiction is not just a behavior problem; it is a chronic brain disorder—a fact that was officially recognized by the American Society of Addiction Medicine in April 2011.
Teenagers, who make up the majority of cell phone users, must be especially wary of addiction given their technology laden lifestyles. In 2011 TeleNav Inc., an app company, carried out a survey to form a general idea of how much people need (or think they need) their phones which illustrates the lengths that teens are willing to go to in order to keep their phones.
22 percent of people that were surveyed said they would give up brushing their teeth for their phones if they had to, and of iPhone users 40 percent said they would do so.
20 percent said they would go shoeless, with 43 percent of iPhone users saying the same.
75 percent of people have also been reported to take their phones into the bathroom with them when they shower out of fear of missing calls or texts.
A study by Nielsen shows that the average teen sends 3,417 texts per month and talks for 523 minutes a month. Females are also more attached to their phones than are males. In 2011, researchers at the University of Maryland asked young people from around the world to go without media, especially their phones, for 24 hours and then attempted to subsequently record their feelings. Many of them said that without their phones they felt frustrated, as they had expected, but also felt lonely, anxious, and panicked—highly unanticipated reactions. Some even reported experiencing heart palpitations. In many cases cell phone addiction also leads to the deterioration of healthy family relationships, increased mental anxiety and stress, and cutting oneself off from other activities and the world.
The ever growing addiction to and dependency on cell phones has sparked other problems and diseases as well, such as the very real and very prevalent nomophobia, textaphrenia, textiety, and binge texting.
Nomophobia (no mobile phobia) is the fear of losing or simply being without one’s phone, and affects 66 perecnt of cell phone owners.
Textaphrenia is hearing or feeling a text message arrive when none really has, while textiety is a feeling of anxiousness when one isn’t receiving or sending texts.
Binge texting is when teens send out multiple texts in order to garner responses and feel better about themselves.
While these problems may seem relatively insignificant, they are not only symptoms of addiction but also contribute to many of the negative effects of addiction.
There are many ways to tell whether you are suffering from an addiction of this sort, including the other consequent problems that stem from cell phone addiction.
1. If family and friends often ask you to put your phone away when you are with them.
2. If you find yourself putting off or neglecting duties like schoolwork, office work, and household work so that you can spend more time on your phone.
3. If, when you wake up in the morning, when your flight lands, and/or when you come home from school (if your school doesn’t allow phones), you check your phone as soon as possible in order to be sure you haven’t missed anything.
4. If you feel restless or depressed when without your phone.
5. If you often have aching thumbs or wrists because of excessive phone usage.
6. If you find yourself often waiting anxiously for text messages and calls.
Steps and Suggestions to control usage and combat addiction:
1. Make sure you fully recognize the seriousness of addiction; don’t underestimate it.
2. If you find some friends who are similarly addicted try setting up No Texting Days, when you will not text each other unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. Even if you don’t find any willing friends, set these days aside for yourself to follow.
3. Make sure that you have a set amount of face to face contact with someone during your free time and days off.
4. Using a prepaid phone plan can help to curb usage.
5. Let your friends and family know that you are trying to spend less time using your phone. That way, they will be less likely to constantly call or text you and can also help you stick to your goals.