Cell phones are a part of our lives now. Statistics from Spain show the cell phone is 108.5%. This equates to more than one cell phone per person. The age of cell phone usage is becoming younger all the time too. As of 2015, 30% of kids that were 10 had a cell phone. For 12 year olds, it’s 70%. Toddlers that are between the ages of 2-3 are given their parents cell phone as a form of distraction. To say that we overuse and abuse cell phones is a given. Is it addictive? Some believe that it is though cell phone addiction doesn’t hold all the attributes of other substance addictions necessarily. We will explore the nature of the brain in regards to its dependency on cell phone usage.
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Behavioral Problems Connected to Cell Phones
Data has shown that cell phones cause behavioral problems and even disorders. This is especially true for adolescents. New pathologies are being created due to our dependency on cell phones. Here are some of the conditions:
- Nomophobia -No-Mobile-Phobia
- FOMO-Fear Of Missing Out. The fear that when you don’t have your cell phone, or the internet isn’t available, you are missing out on things.
- Textaphrenia and Ringxiety-A false sensation that you have gotten a text or call. You will run to your phone and chronically check it.
- Textiety-Anxiety provoked by a need to get your text and respond to them right away.
Physical and Psychological Symptoms of Cell Phone Addiction
Symptoms of overusing your cell phone can be quite uncomfortable. When someone can’t put their cell phone down even though it’s causing physical and psychological symptoms, this is a sign of addiction.
- Rigidity and pain in the muscles.
- Computer vision syndrome (fatigue, dryness of the eyes, blurry vision, irritation, reddened eyes.
- The sensation that you’ve heard your phone ring or felt a vibration.
- Pain and weakness in areas that work the most while using a cell phone like your fingers or wrists (also known as Quervain’s tenosynovitis).
Signs that Show Cell Phone Addiction is Possible
The diagnostic criteria of the DSM is a plausible form of proof that cell phone addiction is not an overstatement. Keep in mind that there is both physical and psychological addiction. The issues that have occurred with cell phones include:
- Consciously using your cell phone in dangerous situations. There was an instance where two people were standing on a cliff taking a selfie, and fell to their death in the process. In general though, people driving while on their cell phone is prevalent.
- Social and family conflicts and confrontations because of cell phone use.
- Loss of interest in other activities.
- Despite negative effects and malaise, behavior of using cell phone continues.
- Cell phone usage takes precedence over physical, mental, social, work, and family.
- Cell phone addict will prefer cell phone to personal contact.
- Frequent checking of the cell phone.
- Sleep disturbances and insomnia.
- A pattern that may ensue is excessive use, a sense of urgency, abstinence, withdrawal or craving with difficulty controlling the problem.
- Tolerance-Increase of use to feel satisfied or relaxed. Also to counteract a dysphoric mood by trying to feel a sense of connection.
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Anxiety from Cell Phone Use
When a person is suffering from cell phone dependence, they will feel anxiety for a variety of reasons. When they can’t text or check social media, they become tense. If they send messages to people and don’t get a response back, this is also a basis for anxiety. Anxiety also occurs with the apps that the phone has on it. Facebook can cause an ebb and flow of emotional highs and lows. A study found that when there is social support and connectedness on social media, there are lower levels of anxiety and depression. Negative or no interaction can cause a sense of lower self-esteem and general dissatisfaction of life.
The Pressure on Apple
You know there’s an issue when people are pressuring Apple to do something about accessibility to their cell phones. Mark Love developed something called the “Be Present Box.” It’s a wooden box used to restrict technology at specific times of the day. The product has been popular on the market but it’s still not enough to protect kids and adults alike from cell phone overuse and addiction. People are turning to Apple to help give parents better tools to ensure their children use products for the better. Shareholders are actually looking to Apple now to make necessary changes because in the end, they are looking out for their investment. When we can liken cell phone addiction to that of cocaine addiction, this is not good for any brand.
What Cell Phone Addiction is Doing to Kids
Over half of parents who were surveyed in a study about cell phones say their children were attached to it. Cell phone over usage is causing higher levels of obesity, a decrease in attention spans and higher rates of depression. The ugly reality is that giving children your cell phone is said to be like giving them a gram of cocaine in terms of adopting addiction. Addiction therapists say that spending time on Snapchat or Instagram is just as addictive for teens as any form of drugs or alcohol. Technology addiction and adolescent development is a very real situation that is hitting epic proportions. Experts in the field certainly believe that cell phone addiction should be treated like any substance or drug addiction.
Cell Phone Dependency is a Behavioral Addiction
When we think of addiction, we think of drugs or alcohol. What addiction actually is defined to be is a pattern of behavior that manifests in various ways. Food obsessions, self-mutilation, and gambling are all examples of this. Certainly cell phone addiction is also falling into the behavioral addiction category. Studies agree that the cell phone problem would sit in the spectrum of behavioral addiction. It is in company with shopping, internet, videogames, and online porn addiction. Before the cell phone addiction problem, there was a lot of research done on the other behavioral addictions like online sex and videogames. ” column_min_width=”[object Object]” column_spacing=”[object Object]” rule_style=”[object Object]” rule_size=”[object Object]” rule_color=”[object Object]” hide_on_mobile=”[object Object]” class=”[object Object]” id=”[object Object]”][object Object]
Substance Addiction vs. Cell Phone Addiction
Regardless of the repercussions, people will continue to use say the experts. This is what likens it to drugs, alcohol and there is a close similarity to smoking addiction. Substance addiction shows a more acute change in the person’s life. It is a very distinct moment when the person crosses over from abuse to addiction. It’s much easier to detect the interferences that go on in everyday life. It is hard to determine where problems come from when it comes to behavioral addictions. It could be problematic behavior, personality traits, or psychiatric comorbidities. There could be a biological occurrence that causes behavioral addiction. Dopamine agonists may provoke behaviors in a person that previously weren’t there.
Dopamine and Cell Phones
Dopamine is what controls our “pleasure” systems in the brain. It’s what allows you to feel happy, enjoyment and pleasure. It causes you to seek out behaviors that feel good (but aren’t necessarily good for you when taken in high doses. Drugs and food are examples of pleasurable items but make no mistake, it is also prevalent in exercise and texting. Dopamine drives you to really want things that give you pleasure. When you do find something, you constantly look to see it out. As time goes on, you build a tolerance to the pleasure. Dopamine is designed to motivate us to learn, navigate the world safely, and survive. It makes us curious and fuels our desire to seek out information.
The Opioid System and Cell Phones
Now, the opioid system is actually the reward system and what gives you the signal that it likes what’s happening. They work together with the wanting dopamine system propelling the liking system. When you find something you like, you can stop seeking for a while. If you don’t take a break from seeking, it can start to become a problem. The dopamine system is more dominant than the opioid system so we do tend to look for satisfaction more than feel it. This has a lot to do with why opioid drugs like heroin are so addictive. Cell phones offer a constant stream of instant gratification. This is where you fall into a dopamine induced loop. Everything you want is instantaneous. Dopamine gets you looking and you get rewarded. You seek more. This is why you obsessively check emails, texts, or social media.
Exhibiting all Signs of an Addiction
There is evidence coming to light that the cell phone and all its apps and functions is prone to abuse. Addiction is abuse without having any control. Moods is altered, there is tolerance, periods of abstinence, and a tendency to relapse. In the brood term of addiction, there has to be the possibility of getting hooked on behaviors that worsen over time. A person loses control and has a hard time avoiding the behavior regardless of how it’s negatively affecting them. Addiction clinics in the US and around the world are beginning to treat patients for cell phone addiction or activities relating to cell phone use. There has been a strong call to action for greater awareness of the dangers of cell phones. Like any addiction, it is deadly when abused. The person who drives while texting because they can’t stop puts themselves and others in jeopardy. There is a growing need to professional help in our society to help those who can’t walk away from their cell phones.