Friday, October 24, 2014

Smartphone Addiction

A Smart Phone, but a Smart Choice?
IPhone 2G PSD Mock" by Justin14

Is this something you have seen around a lot? Has it already possessed your friends and family? Perhaps… it has already possessed you? This expensive item is becoming the norm for so many people across America as more and more smartphones turn from a device that allows you to send a quick email to a coworker or friend to an all purpose gadget.  Although this electronic multi tool sounds like a handy thing to have, it is beginning to to do serious damage to our lives. I personally have been offered a smartphone in replacement for my 90's flip-phone, but I have decided against it because I don't want any opportunity to be bound to it. I believe it is everyone who owns a smartphone's responsibility to manage their time on the device and to recognize the consequences of being irresponsible with such a powerful item.

One of the ways smart phones are affecting us is by deteriorating our health. For example, those who are addicted may have abnormal sleep patterns. This is caused by the blue light in an electronic screen that suppresses melatonin (a hormone that regulates the Circadian Rhythm or Sleep-Wake Cycle) production. Another way it affects sleep patterns is the obligation for many young people to have a 24/7 connection to their peers. Smartphones provide the opportunity to hang out with friends after school, and many teens feel pressured to be talking to their friends all the time. This connection interrupts teens because they will check it while trying to sleep whenever it makes a noise. Lack of sleep leads to increasing levels of anxiety, depression, and irritability, and decreasing levels in focus and creativity. Overuse of smartphones also causes long term effects such as tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, back/neck pain, and even loss of vision. Tendonitis when affiliated with smartphone addiction is caused by too much texting, scrolling, gaming, and other smartphone activities. Inflamed tendons are not something that help in daily life. Carpal tunnel syndrome is another symptom caused by too much repetitive motion (something required for cell phone use) which can create hand and finger pains. Back and neck pain is caused by craning your neck over a cell phone or even your whole back. Loss of vision and some less extreme symptoms are caused by constantly looking at small print on a backlit screen. Another condition which has actually been given a clinical name is nomophobia. It literally means “no mobile phone phobia”.

Smartphone addiction has also been linked to problems with sanity, studying, self reflection, and actual in-person social interaction. With in-person social interaction being a necessity for everyone in order to get through life, one should at least know how to do it. About 67% of those who own smartphone (9 out of every 10 Americans has one) spend equal to or more time online talking to friends than they do offline, and 46% of them use their phone at the dinner table instead of conversing with relatives. It has also been proven that having the option to have an uninterrupted connection to their peers often overshadows the need for young people to connect with their parents. Self reflection and meditation over life is something that many teens need in order to synthesize information in their brain and form more ideas. One in every three teens send about 100 texts each day, and if we were able to take that number down, it would have a very positive impact upon our current and future society.

This image is from: The Towerlight  Photographer: Matthew Hazlett
Many people may counter-argue with these points by showing how useful a smartphone is and how much easier life has become now that they exist. And they would not be wrong to do so. Smartphones are incredibly useful. They replace the alarm clock, timer, calculator, flashlight, camera, MP3 devices, calendars, notepads, and even more. I am not disputing these facts at all. But some amount of self regulation and responsibility is required in order to wield such a powerful device. People must be educated on what overuse of smartphones can do to a person, and they can decide for themselves on how to manage their usage.

Despite there being all of the bad things that can be caused by smartphone addiction, there are many ways you can get treatment for a severe case or learn how to more responsibly manage your time on your smartphones. Some strategies that can be applied to anyone include figuring out which emotions or situations make us want to use our cell phone and finding something else to do instead, turning off notifications, and just finding the time in which you don’t actually need it. Other strategies have been applied to the largest population of people who are texting (teens). Some of the parents of the teens have enforced a rule in which phones must be turned off and/or taken away from their teens which gives them an excuse to get away from the obligatory 24/7 connection with their peers. Another method is to simply convince them that texting and “hanging out” with friends after school is not the only way to be happy. Introduce them to new hobby options which may lead them to meet new people who think alike in person, not on the internet. In some situations, a teen is trying to help a friend through a rough patch in their life, and is extremely adamant about maintaining a connection. A solution to such an event is to simply give the struggling friend a home phone number if he/she is in desperate need of support.

The technology of this century has allowed us to replace so many items with a single device, and it is up to you to decide whether or not to have one. I hope that the information provided on this blog allows you to make a conscious decision on whether or not you really need a smartphone like I did, and if you do, you will make managing the time you spend on it a big part of your usage.


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Conclusion (updated 11.12.14)

The responsibility and understanding that is required to use a smartphone can be hard to achieve sometimes, and can have major consequences.  But when it has been achieved, one has taken a monumental step towards becoming a more successful digital citizen.  The comments on my blog showed that many people have already known a little bit about how smartphone addictions affect our everyday lives.  It helped clarify my thoughts upon the problems of smartphones because they showed me how many people had first hand experiences with such a situation.  I had to research very little in order to respond to the comments I received other than taking a look at the articles that people recommended.  I learned that blogging is a much more research intensive process than I had believed.  I also found out that blogging requires lots of revisions and changes, even after it has been posted.  I had not blogged or even really looked at many blogs before this instance, and it completely changed my view on what blogging is and how much effort and concentration it requires.  Before I wrote this and read many other related articles, I assumed most blogs were just rants made by angry people on the spot.  Though that may be the case in some instances, it definitely does not apply to too many of them.  Blogging now appears to me as an easy and (somewhat) quick way for someone to get their ideas, opinions, and research out to the world in a format that people will want to look at and absorb.  Overall, I believe that writing this and continually revising it has been a good experience.

11 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing this, LyvSec. I really enjoyed learning about the health issues that smartphones can cause. I was also very interested in the social aspects of this issue. I believe that person-to-person communication is one of the best things for our health. The internet is no excuse for this. In China, they have actually created internet addiction camps to combat the constantly growing issue. I never thought that the world could’ve come to this. It kind of makes you think about movies like iRobot where technology surpasses human abilities. People need to make sure that they enjoy little things about everyday life. That’s what really makes life great. The internet is great in moderation, but it is very overused in our society today.

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    1. Hi Hayden. Thanks for your input on my article! I happen to agree with your statement that the internet and online interaction is great in moderation. It allows us to interact with friends and the world when we can't do it in real life. But going back on your article, it can become a major problem in which the internet becomes people's reality rather than reality itself. Although it is a good idea to have something similar to an "Internet Addiction Camp", more gentle measures should be taken there. We want people to understand they have a problem and teach them how to fix it, not force them to and kill some in the process.

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  2. I was not given the option of making this a link, but here's the URL of the website where I read about internet addiction camps.

    http://www.voanews.com/content/electronic-heroin-spawns-chinese-internet-addiction-camps/2427495.html

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  3. This a great post LyvSec. I thought it was really interesting that so many health issues, like loss of vision, there are. I also can't believe that 67% of smartphone owners talk to people equally or more using a phone. With technology increasing in our daily lives, depending on smartphones could become more of a problem. I think it is important for people to actually interact with each other. Do you think it is possible that if more and more people use texting or calling as communication, it would be harder for those people to actually talk to a someone in person?

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Alex! You brought up some of the more extreme parts of my article, and I'm glad you were able to pick up on why they affect our lives. To answer your question, I do believe that it will become harder for people to forget how to have in person social interaction. If you spend more time texting people, you don't learn how to talk with different types of people in real life and you won't acquire basic social skills of a person living in society. People like this may end up incapable of having the most simplest of conversations which can lead to major problems in relationships or simply getting through life.

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  4. I like reading your post, LyvSec. The evolution of technology sometimes may harms us or even becomes our nightmare. As the article mentioned, many people have been deeply influenced by cell phones or other electronic stuffs in socialization or their health.I have some personal experience to share with you. There used to be a time that I was really addicted to my cell phone. Every night before I slept, I would always jump up from my bed and rush to my phone in order to check whether they was some news. Though most of time there was not any reminding sound at all. And at the period, my daily sleep time was decreased to only 5-6 hours everyday. The other thing was really common when I ate out with my friends after school. When we are waiting for the food, most of them just took out their friends and started to play with it without saying a single word, which just make the meal boring and awkward. To face it, changing our phones might be a really efficient idea. However, it would be hard to proceed because nowadays modern cell phones have already integrated and become a really important part of our lives. With no doubt, cell phones have greatly made our lives simpler. On the contrary, if we can't properly control our time with it, phones will ourselves sooner or later. Anyway, here's a link of 5 Reasons Why Cellphones Are Bad For Your Health. Hope you enjoy it.
    MegaZ

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    1. Hi MegaZ. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my post. Thank you so much for sharing your own life experiences with behaviors similar to smartphone addiction. I believe it adds a lot of weight to my article to see a firsthand account of what smartphones can do to one's health and social life. The article you linked provided some evidence that backed your opinion that having smartphones out during what could have been a face to face conversation makes the situation "boring and awkward". You also brought up some very good points about how change is needed for smartphones, but we won't be able to eliminate them completely.

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  5. Thanks for sharing LyvSec! After reading this i think i might have a smartphone addiction. This is very interesting to me because it talks about the usage of smart phones. Some facts that really stood out to me were that teens are the most on their smart phones, teens feel llike the need 24/7 connection with their peers and the one that stuck out the most to me was that one in three teens send over 100 text messages a day. This stuck out to me so much because i think i am one of those three. I know i send a lot of texts daily maybe even over 100. Thanks for sharing once again!
    - Lambsandsheeps101

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    1. Thanks for the comment, lambsandsheeps101. You add an excellent perspective from one of the teens that may be experiencing this themselves. I'm glad that you have become more informed on the staggering statistics that reflect today's generation of texters. I hope that my article provided some tools and tricks to helping overcome this condition yourself. Thanks again!

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  6. LyvSec, you have tackled an issue that many people acknowledge, but few choose to actually confront. Interestingly, this article was published today, highlighting a study where researchers discovered that taking people's phones away lead to separation anxiety! It also mentions a man who is currently working on a soon-to-be-released film that documents his experience going a full month with no technology. I'm thinking a monthly, weekend-long digital detox would be good for all of us!

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    1. Hi Ms. Gerla. Thank you for your comment and the article that you linked to. It provided lots of information on how to cure technology addictions and showed the risks of simply going cold turkey. It also showed why remaining plugged in all the time could lead to problems as well. I believe we should find an equilibrium where we are able to use our technology where necessary and find more joy in doing things when we're not plugged in. I hope everyone who uses technology watches this film and will perhaps take a digital detox themselves.

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