Mobile addiction and the secrets that surprise you

8 min


Mobile addiction or smartphone addiction is a quite common term. The only thing is we don’t see that as an addiction. Rather, we tend to fool ourselves and believe that this is an essential activity or rather a norm of modern society.

Literally, how many of us freak out when we leave our phones at home? It might be very big stress or an issue per se for most of us. How did we get so hooked up to our mobiles? Further, the level of dependency has sky-rocketed during recent years. We find ourselves desperate. Moreover, we can never stop checking that unnecessary update or twitter queue. A pressure to go on and on back and forth builds up within us. This is a problem of the modern days to be more clear. Even now most of us would be on a phone. Moreover, it is said that we spend at least an average of 3 hours on smartphones and other gadgets per day.

Major reasons for addiction:

Do you know that most of the apps we use and other programs in our mobiles are designed in a particular way so that they seem more persuasive and compelling for us to use them? This is shocking right? It is not an accident that you find some of those apps you use on a regular basis to be more pleasurable. Let’s probe more to find out why we actually are hooked up and at one point addicted to these devices.

So firstly, why do these companies and other bigger firms, make or develop their apps in a very convincing manner. Further, why do they set up an individual set of personnel to track down activities and further juice up their apps? The simple answer to this question is an increase in the inflow of money. Consequently, the concept of variable rewards aka intermittent reinforcement comes up. This is widely based on the cognitive theory describe by Skinner in the mid-’20s. Instead of the mice previously described in the experiment, we come into the picture.

THE REWARD’S CONCEPT:

Let us try to simplify the above statements. Here comes the rewards concept. Have you ever experienced or been in a situation, where you are scrolling through your feed or playing that favourite video game and someone asks you something important? Your answer to even some of the most important questions would be a mere blurt of ‘Hmm’ or ‘Yea’. We just ward them off for time being so that we can continue getting engrossed in that game, app or whatever. To worsen things up, when you try to remember what that question was about, you might stare into a blank space.

This habit forms as a basis or acts as a seed to develop a new habit or pattern. This weird behaviour is a result of variable rewards. Further, the game or the apps keeps our brain occupied indefinitely and we ward off any distractions. Consequently, we tend to develop a pattern or a habit.

THE HARD-WIRED BRAIN’S CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS MOBILE ADDICTION:

Weirdly, our brains are programmed in such a way to perceive this activity of removing distractions and staying on that game as a fun task. It is not the brain’s fault. On the other hand, we are designed or wired in such a way, the brain doesn’t give us the reward of a dopamine gush after receiving a reward. It gives us a small amount of stress to push us to the next level and achieve more. This mechanism however has improved people in many ways. We are just a group of curious beings.

Consequently, this proves useful in our day to day life, when it comes to mobiles, craving for more is like volunteering for more damage. Unfortunately, we don’t have a separate mechanism for every task. The three most proven and ultimate explanations for our dependency on social media are,

  • Reward of tribe
  • The reward of hunt (Eg., E-mails)
  • Reward of self

A potent mix of all of the above-mentioned factors keeps us hooked up 24/7. While our ancestors had these traits to keep themselves safe and alive and used them to discover new things for our needs. Modern technology on the other hand uses those same set of strategies to its advantage.

To sum up, all the above-mentioned concepts play a vital role in developing an addiction.

THE EFFECT OF MOBILE ADDICTION IN CHILDREN:

The symptoms and effects of mobile addiction are the same in both adults and children. But, children are affected badly. Mobile addiction has physical as well as behavioural impacts on a child. The physical problem of mobile addiction include,

  • Headaches
  • Vision problems
  • Poor academic performance
  • Sleeplessness or insomnia
  • Sleep pattern disturbance
  • The memory or the retaining capacity is affected
  • The language skills may become poor
  • Slurred speech or delay in speech
  • The child might have poor eye contact
  • They are socially disconnected
  • Child may not respond to parent’s command

BEHAVIORAL ISSUES:

Apart from physical symptoms, the patient might even have behavioural issues like,

  • Temper tan trums
  • Irritability
  • Aggresion
  • Violent behavior
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts and even substance abuse.

HOW TO OVERCOME MOBILE ADDICTION:

Like any other addiction, mobile addiction can be pretty challenging to overcome. But with the right guidance and some simple lifestyle changes, it’s quite easy.

AVOID PHONES RIGHT OUT OF BED:

This may sound absurd and weird at first. But, one of the major diagnostic criteria for most addictions is the first thing we perform in the morning. For example, habits like smoking and alcohol are classified as addictions, by our level of indulgence and use of that substance during the dawn hours.

In the same vein, try avoiding picking up your mobile-first thing in the morning. Further, this habit can make our life better in a lot of ways. Instead, go on with your regular chores, or grab a cup of coffee and savour it in silence. Performing constructive activities in the morning can be a mood booster and a great way to start a day.

AVOID UNHEALTHY SCROLLING:

Nowadays, scrolling has become a regular activity. This might be the result of the endless popular social media apps that we use today. It’s really disheartening and pathetic if we realise the amount of unhealthy information we feed our brain with at any particular part of the day. ‘Content fatigue’ is a very real thing.

The main application that gives this unhealthy habit to humans is the news apps. Whenever we hear of something that’s trending over, we just jump into our phones and probe deeper and deeper. Further, most of the headlines that we read focus on deaths, tragedies, calamities, celebrity gossips and stuff that can create a negative impact on our minds. We tend to dump all these into our brain and slow it down causing less focus on our activities.

BE A BIT OLD-FASHIONED:

Yup, we are not kidding. It is sometimes better to carry a small scribbling pad and pen with you. This could come in handy to all the folks out there who forget stuff easily. Scribble down stuff and tick it off as you’re done with the task.

You don’t always have to put stuff down into that remainder app of yours that constantly keeps on beeping like it’s the end of the world. Moreover, the truth is we might become extremely anxious in a short period of time even if we miss out on teeny tiny tasks.

CLEAR THE CLATTER:

Try to thrash all those unused apps and stuff you rarely use on your phone. Keep your home screen clutter-free as possible. Hide or offload apps that consume too much of your time and cost your mental health. Try avoiding the anxiousness to try every app out there. It’s very much okay to miss out on certain things and not knowing every little information that the internet has to offer.

KEEP A TRACK ON THE SCREEN TIME:

Most of our smartphones offer us the opportunity to measure our screen time exposure. This can come in very handy. This presents us with a comprehensive report of how much we stick around on each app, which app we use first in the morning, the app we use the least and even the number of hours we spend off the phone. Keeping a track of this and setting a limited time on each app and set limits for your screen time exposure can come in very handy. Further, this can be a habit breaker by setting a standard timing and sending us notifications that indicate a time excess on the gadget.

THE DND MODE AND WIND-DOWN:

Never hesitate to turn on the do not disturb mode. There is nothing wrong with desiring to disconnect from the outside world and spending some quality time alone or with loved ones. The Do Not Disturb (DND) comes in real handy here. This way you can avoid those annoying notifications.

Nowadays, smartphones also provide the wind-down option. This way you can have a healthy lifestyle. This option provides a lot of great advantages. This automatically turns on the blue light filter. Bluelight can greatly reduce the melatonin or sleep hormone in our body. Further, the added night shift comes in handy. Further, they also shut out notifications from a majority of apps. This way you can be well-rested.

These are only the initial tips, but following these can serve as a base to a healthier future and de-addiction.

To sum up, mobile addiction is as bad and equally destructive as other distractions. A sudden decision to quit a habit can be overwhelming. But, trodding steadily with baby steps and consistency can make anything possible. Put down that phone now, and start enjoying the physical world around you.


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Dr Kavitha M

I am an undergraduate degree holder in dentistry. I have a great interest in music and reading. I am a linguaphile. My areas of interest lie in psychology, medical imaging, diagnostics, and oncology. I am a person who focuses more on the emerging areas of forensics.

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