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Are you addicted to smartphones and social media?

Do you think there is a possibility that you are addicted to your smart phone? Many people will strongly deny that this is the case with them.

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an embracing couple looking at their smartphones

Do you think there is a possibility that you are addicted to your smart phone or do you just use it too much? Almost 4 billion people worldwide have at least 1 cell phone and the average user checks their phone at least 85 times per day. Many people will strongly deny that this is the case with them but over time we have adopted the habit of checking our cell phones without even realizing it, this is especially true among the younger generations which is leaving parents feeling anxious and seeking answers as to whether their child has developed an addiction to their cell phone. If you are part of this group, here is some data that will help you determine possible dependence on a cell phone.

How the world defines addiction

Addiction is described as a disorder affecting the brand and is characterized by a user’s compulsive engagement in stimuli that is rewarding even though it has severe consequences. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), addiction has health implications and is associated with functional impairment and distress. Today, experts recognize the following 2 types of addictions:

  1. Chemical addiction: this is an addiction that involves substance use.
  2. Behavioural addiction: this refers to addictions that involve compulsive behaviours that are persistent and carry out despite the fact that they offer no real benefit.

Many studies have shown that compulsive smartphone use can lead to psychological disorders and different types of psychopathology including depression and anxiety in users, especially college students. Cell phone addiction also affects academic performance.

The behavioural impact of smartphone social media use

Smartphones themselves aren’t addictive, rather the attachment that humans have to the hyper-social environments that they provide in relation to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. There are studies available that display the link between cell phone usage and anxiety, depression, poor sleep quality as well as a heightened risk of car injury as well as death. But why are smartphones so difficult to put down? Let’s look at dopamine and social reward. Dopamine is a chemical found in our brands that supply the human being with motivating behaviour. Whenever we eat delicious foods, exercise or have social interactions, dopamine gets released and motivates us to repeat these behaviours.

Cognitive neuroscientists have shown that rewarding social stimuli such as text emoji, positive affirmations from our friends or even messages from our family members activates dopamine release in our brains. But most of all, the thing that contributes the most to your experience are the followers. The more followers you have, the more you enjoy social media and although the benefits of having a lot of followers are great, the constant fight for more followers might be the reason you spend so much time on your phone. You can, for example, buy real followers on Twitter and make your account more influential, but organic engagement is the ultimate source of motivation. When talking about motivation, smartphones provide us with an unlimited supply of this pleasure and stress relief.

How to recognize smartphone addiction

These are the symptoms of smartphone addiction that you should be familiar with:

  • Restlessness
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Concentration issues
  • Sleep related problems
  • Craving access to your cell phone and other forms of technology.
  • Stress
  • Depressive moods

Reducing smartphone use

If you are concerned that you might have a smartphone addiction, there are ways that you can reduce the use of smartphones including:

  • Pay attention to your screen time.
  • Get rid of your notifications.
  • Change your phone to the grayscale mode.
  • Rearrange the apps on your phone.
  • Put your phone on silent.
  • Keep your phone where you cannot see it.
  • Purchase an alarm clock.
  • Set small goals for yourself.
  • Designate phone-free times.
  • Focus on your other activities and hobbies.
  • Understand temptations will arise and learn to refocus your mind when this happens.
  • Get rid of some of the apps on your phone.
  • Pay attention to every time you reach for your phone.

Smartphones are a great tool to connect with people and social media makes connecting much easier and more fun. However, many people fall victim to spending too much time on their phones just scrolling or looking for tools that will help them grow their accounts, especially younger people and this can easily develop into an unhealthy dependency and behavioural addiction. If you notice any symptoms of cell phone addiction such as restlessness, irritability, sleep problems or depression, then you should take a step back and implement methods to use your smartphone less such as keeping track of your screen time or keeping your phone out of sight. Addiction is a serious problem that can affect your mental and physical health and it should be taken seriously so even though smartphones are fun, be careful.

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