Addicted to smart phones
Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 18:03
A British study has found that some people are so addicted to their smart phones that they hear “phantom vibrations” because they are desperate to receive new messages.
Smart phone users are becoming increasingly addicted to their devices as technological advancements emerge. The new technology, that includes social media and emails, is catapulting the public into a society of screen gazers and notification clickers with an inability to disconnect. According to a recent report from CNN, smart phone users are obsessively checking their phones on average 34 times a day with young adults alarmingly averaging over 2,000 texts per month.
From the bathroom, classroom, and grocery store lines, these devices are infiltrating every aspect of our lives. With such alarming rates of usage, as well as the risks associated with obsessive smart phone use, such as cancer, why do we still feel the urge to constantly click into our digital spaces?
According to Dr. David Greenfield, psychologist and author of “Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyberfreaks and Those Who Love Them,” computer technologies such as smart phones are addictive because they are psychoactive. This means that these particular technologies have the ability to alter moods and trigger happy feelings. For example, email gives us pleasure because we never know when we will get a great message so we check inboxes repeatedly expecting something great. Greenfield suggests that the constant need to click and check is similar to the responses of slot machine users who are “seeking out a pleasurable hit.”
Not only does excessive smart phone usage affect moods and feelings, it also can affect overall cognitive ability. Lancaster University Researcher and Professor Cary Cooper suggest that phone time ultimately can “numb the senses.” By staring at the screen and avoiding the daily trials of life, obsessive smart phone users are using their devices as a passive outlet. This outlet leads to information overload, which ultimately leads to lack of retaining important information that you need. “[It’s] like using the elevator rather than the stairs simply because it seems easier, not using your brain to perform key cognitive and social functions can have a huge impact on emotional health,” said Cooper.
Although there are a multitude of reasons smart phones could be detrimental to users, there are definitely a number of reasons to be thankful for that mini-computer in your pocket. Obviously, the most important positive aspect of owning a smart phone is being connected. Smart phones enable users to tap into their social media interests, give insight into their lives as well as keep up with current events without the need to be in one location. Organizations, as well as individuals, can also benefit from smart phones because they keep each up to date about public opinions and allow them to respond in a timely manner.
Staying connected also means staying informed. With smart phones, sites such as Google and Yahoo are literally right in the palm of your hand ready to give you the answers. Need to know what the capital of Uruguay is before that big geography exam? Your smart phone will handle that (Google said it’s Montevideo). Think about all the paper waste that has ceased from the printing business since the inception of smart phones. No need for three foot long paper maps or giant yellow phone books; your little Droid has all the answers.
Other great aspects of smart phones are the multimedia capabilities. Smart phones come standard with advanced music and video playback software. Apps allow users to download a multitude of entertainment right at their finger tips. Also, the most recently released phones have cameras that could give your basic digital camera a run for its money. Regular cell phones tend to have only a two megapixel camera whereas most smart phones have eight megapixels with cropping and editing software built right in--helping you to catch life’s crazy moments.
Yes, there may be several reasons not to be a user of smart phones as well as many great benefits to owning one. Just as using anything else, the key is moderation. Although devices such as smart phones admit us into a digital world of information and entertainment, its absolutely essential that usage is regulated to avoid addiction.