6 Ways In Which Your Phone Could Be Hurting Your Mental Health
Phone addiction is a real thing, and so are it's mental health risks.
Let's face it — most of us are addicted to our phones.
Cell phones are a huge part of daily life for most people. Having a phone is almost a necessity now, simply because they make our lives soo much easier. We can stay in touch with our friends and family, check our work email on the go, and find the answer to nearly any question with just a quick Google search — all thanks for our BFF the Smartphone who is ALWAYS by our side.
All these things are positive, but they also tie most of us to our phones. According to a recent study conducted by the Department of Mental Health in the US, a person will pick up and check his or her cell phone 110 times a day! Three-fourths of people will check their smartphone as soon as they wake up, and 61% of people sleep with their phones turned on and by their bed while they sleep.
Though that does sound a little off, most of us might still fail to understand what the big deal is. So what if we are dependant on phones, you may ask? They pretty much form our connection to the outer world these days, so what's the harm of it?
Well, the problem here is not just the dependence itself but the psychological affects of it.This reliance can turn into an addiction, and mobile phone addiction may cause psychological problems and affect our mental health in the following ways.
1.Smartphones Can Affect Our Brain Chemistry
Just looking at your smartphone can make you feel good. You can see a picture of your family and friends, watch a video of puppies in socks, or scroll through your Facebook and Instagram feeds. You can even check some work off of your to-do list. Doing those things can cause our brains to release two feel-good chemicals — Dopamine and Oxytocin. These big guys are the ones that are normally released when we feel love for someone or do something that makes us feel good. Dopamine can help us form good habits, like exercising. The flip side, it can reward us for forming bad habits, like looking at our phones too much, which then reduces the joy we feel by engaging in the real world.
2. Anxiety Disorders
Close to 50% of people report that they feel uneasy if they leave their phones at home. What if they miss an important work email, or fail to see a phone call or text from a friend or relative? All those "what ifs" can make you feel very anxious. Many of us also use our cellphones as a way to alleviate any anxiety that stems from other places in our lives. What we don't realise is that cellphone usage leads to the release of cortisol, a hormone linked to stress, creating a vicious cycle that can lead to increased anxiety.
3. Sleep Disturbances
Your phone could be the reason that you have trouble going to sleep. A recent study found that one in three smartphone users will wake up in the middle of the night and check their phones. Many people also check their phones right before bed and first thing in the morning, which means phones are a big part of many people's sleep routines. Research has found the bright light of a phone's screen makes it difficult to sleep. Another study found that smartphone use right before bed results in a longer period before actually falling asleep and poorer quality of sleep.
4. Social Problems and Relationship Issues
Smartphones are changing the way we interact socially with one another. While it is a wonderful way to keep in touch with people, cellphone use should not be a replacement for social interaction. Addiction might mean you find yourself checking your phone incessantly, even when you are spending time with someone else. This kind of cell phone use can harm personal relationships, create communication barriers and even lead to social isolation.
The science linking smartphone usage to rising depression and suicide rates, is overwhelming, especially amongst younger people. One study found that people, who are glued to their smartphones are significantly less happy. Researchers determined that those who excessively used on-screen devices exhibited lower levels of happiness than people who spent more time engaging in non-screen activities.
6. Reduced Productivity and Attention
Another downside of smartphones is that they can negatively affect your productivity and attention span at work or school. Cellphone notifications and flashing lights can break our concentration.The constant stimulation from various news feeds and social media apps also make it difficult for us to focus one thing. It was found that people performed more poorly on tasks requiring focus when they received a text notification or a phone call during the task – even if they didn’t interact with their phone.
Though we cannot deny the vital role that cellphones play in making our lives easier, it is also important to take note of these very real issues and make sure we balance our phone usage. The key is to use technology to convenience our lives, not be enslaved by it. Our advice? Put away that phone and look up at the world around you from time to time, you will find that it makes all the difference to your day.