In this day and age, it seems as though every single one of us struggles with being away from our phones for too long. This dependence is harmful to us socially, physically and mentally.
The first misconception of this topic is that only millennials are culprits of being addicted to phones, but there is no age limit. We see it in parents and grandparents on Facebook, teenagers on Instagram and children on YouTube. The simplicity and accessibility of our phones and social media draw all of us out of truly being within moments of our lives.
There are physical and mental side effects from having too much screen time that can build up on a person over a period of time. These symptoms include headaches, decreased attention span, shortened temper, disordered sleep schedule, anxiety and depression. Social media alone has proven to take a huge toll on a person’s mental health, regardless of age.
Although social media is a wonderful way to stay in touch and share special moments in your life with loved ones, it can also turn into a vicious cycle of self comparison, jealousy and unsatisfactory connections. We lose the intimacy and happiness that real world relationships bring us by creating and maintaining connections via phone. This leads to a lack of social skills in the real world, especially for adolescents.
Think: you’re in an awkward situation, whether you don’t know what to say, who to talk to or what to do. What’s the first thing you do? Pull out your phone to ease your mind. We are all victims of it, but for people who have been using this tactic their whole lives, they develop a very intense case of social awkwardness which can affect their future within friendships, relationships and the workplace.
“It is the sad reality, that nowadays many people, especially youth, experience lack of human contact and they try to compensate it by mobile-phone communication, which is not an adequate substitute for personal intercourse,” a member of the Federal Communications Commission said.
Our phones truly become like an addiction. Just like a smoker with cigarettes, you need to leave the social setting for a couple minutes to have a smoke, or in this instance check your timeline.
A study at Nottingham Trent University showed that avid social-media users and phone addicts suffered similar psychological and physiological effects from having their phones taken away as true diagnosed addicts.
“Addiction criteria, such as neglect of personal life, mental preoccupation, escapism, mood modifying experiences, tolerance and concealing the addictive behavior, appear to be present in some people who use [phones and social media] excessively,” the authors of the study concluded.
Luckily, there are ways to limit social media and overall phone use. If you are an iPhone owner, there are now ways you can monitor your screen time and see how much time is spent staring at a screen. You might become frightened by the amount of time you spend on your phone which may motivate you to start reducing your screen time.
Apple now provides ways to put time limits on certain apps whether it be messaging, social media or entertainment use. With this feature, users can now dictate how much time they spend on their devices or set up windows during the day that allow them to access these apps.
Another proven way to make your phone less desirable is by turning on grayscale. Similar to how certain colors can make food appear more appetizing, the eccentric and vibrant colors used on your phone lure a person in more than black and white does.
“It might not cure your addiction completely, but certainly Instagram and SnapChat are going to be a lot less appealing in black and white than they are in technicolor,” said Tristan Harris, former design ethicist at Google.
A third way to combat your phone addiction is using it as a reward for getting other tasks done first. For example, allowing yourself to be on social media after you finish a morning routine, a workout, homework or any another important task you may have put off by getting sucked into screen time.
Though it may seem like an exaggeration, being attached and even addicted to our phones isn’t uncommon. It takes us away from living in the moment, deepening our real world connections and even giving us physical and mental detriments if we aren’t careful.
Having cell phones and social media has plenty of wonderful purposes and services, but we need to make sure we don’t get consumed by that world and to watch our screen time closely so to live a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life.