With technology on the rise, people have become more and more reliant on their phones. Since smartphones generally help us send and receive messages through mails and other social media platform, perform business transactions, listen to music, watch videos and perform so many other functions, it is easy to develop an addiction to it. While some think it’s only a mental issue, a new study suggests that this constant usage physically affects your brain the same way drug addiction does.
According to a study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, regions in the brain known as grey matter showed changes in size and shape for people with social media addiction. Grey matter controls a person’s emotions, speech, sight, hearing, memory and self-control. Other studies have reported similar brain alterations due to drug usage. Like the use of drugs and alcohol, they can trigger the release of the brain chemical dopamine and alter your mood. You can also rapidly build up tolerance so that it takes more and more time in front of these screens to derive the same pleasure from using them.
Heavy smartphone use can often be a symptom of other underlying problems, such as stress, anxiety, depression, or loneliness. At the same time, it can also intensify these problems. If you use your smartphone as a remedy for feelings of anxiety, loneliness, or awkwardness in social situations, for example, you’ll only succeed in cutting yourself off further from people around you. Staring at your phone will deny you the meaningful face-to-face interactions that can help to connect you to others, alleviate anxiety, and boost your mood. In effect the “remedy” you’ll be choosing for your anxiety will only be making your anxiety worse.
Below are a few of the results of some surveys conducted regarding the use of smartphones.
- Of the 75,000 married couples surveyed, 79 percent admitted technology distracts them from connecting with each other. On top of that, just 22 percent reported being satisfied with how much intentional “couple time” they spend together (Lasting app, 2018).
- We spend more time staring at our phones than making eye contact (Bank Of America, 2016).
- 1 In 3 People checks their smartphones in the middle of the night (2016, Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey)
- Conversation killer! 85% of smartphone users will check their device while speaking with friends and family (2018, BankMyCell’s)
- An average person will spend more than five years of their life on social media (2016 MediaKix)
- The average user will tap, swipe, click their phone 2,617 times a day (Dscout’s 2016 Mobile Touches Report)
- Countries like China or South Korea have recognized internet addiction as new disease (Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD)) and fund internet and gaming addiction treatment centers (CNN, 214)
- 80% of smartphone users check their phone within 1 hour of waking or going to sleep, 35% of which will do within 5 minutes (2016, Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey).
Credit: USA TODAY, Bagby