Smartphone Addiction isn't as Harmless as We May Think

Fagjun | Published 2017-04-16 06:10

Smartphone addiction is, unsurprisingly, the excessive use of mobile phone devices. Researchers have found that the excessive use of smartphones may cause a variety of problems at home, school, and work.

Do you know someone whose smartphone seems to have been fused to their hand? Most of us might know someone like that. They are more present in social media than in real-life social situations, and they seem to text more than they talk. Though smartphone addiction isn't in the DSM-V, and thus not an official mental disorder, it does have the hallmarks of addictive behavior.

An addictive behavior is a behavior that is rewarding and reinforcing in itself. In a nutshell, it's basically something that feels good enough to do over and over again. If you stop doing it long enough, the absence of the behavior begins to affect you negatively. A person's life also begins to revolve around pursuing the object of addiction and satisfying the craving for that object.

The Anatomy of Smartphone Addiction

How does being on your smartphone make you feel?

Addictive behaviors make people feel a “high”. Using a smartphone can provide people with satisfaction in a very short time, which means we don't even have to wait or work for that high. "Our neurons get fired and dopamine is being released, and over time this makes us acquire a desire for quick feedback and immediate satisfaction. This process also has contributed to developing shorter attention spans and being more and more prone to boredom," says Isaac Vaghefi, one of the study's authors.

Vaghefi and a team of researchers asked 182 college students about how much they use their smartphones on a daily basis. According to the findings of the surveys, there are five types of smartphone users. These types are Thoughtful, Regular, Highly Engaged, Fanatic and Addict.

7% of respondents identified themselves as Addicts, while 12% identified themselves as Fanatics. Though these groups make up a small fraction of the participants, it doesn't mean that those numbers won't rise. Vaghefi says that as app developers find new ways to keep audiences engaged, smartphone addiction may increase.

Addicts and Fanatics experience problems at school, work, and at home because of smartphone addiction. They exhibit a compulsive need to be on their smartphones more than what might be considered to be normal. Because the need is compulsive, Addicts and Fanatics are unable to stop their behavior. Even when they don't consciously want to be on their smartphone, they won't be able to help it.

The researchers also found that females are more prone to developing an addiction to using smartphones.

Signs That You May be a Smartphone Addict

What, therefore, are the signs that you may have smartphone addiction? One is using your smartphone largely as a means of escapism. You see your smartphone as something that provides relief from negative feelings or a distraction from problems.

Another sign is a feeling of paranoia when you are without your smartphone. Yet another is frequently checking your phone for no reason.

If you think you may have smartphone addiction and it may be causing problems in your life, then it might be time to consult a professional.

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