Smartphone Addiction – A New Compulsion

I admit that I check my smartphone a whole lot more than I really should. I don’t think an hour goes by during the day without me checking my emails, applications and social media. I check the phone when I wake up and I check it before I go to sleep. I don’t do it to talk to people; it’s only really my boss, my mother and my network provider that ever text me, but I do check my smartphone for work purposes quite often.

My phone has access to everything at any time. There are always emails coming in around the clock. There are Facebook posts to keep up with friends and family. There are a number of different apps and news sources which can be checked throughout the day which promise to feed my mind with more interesting tidbits of information, should I get bored checking on the hundreds of other potential social interactions available to me on my smartphone.

Research and testing from scientists and psychologists have revealed that it is perfectly possible to become addicted to technology and it is becoming increasingly common. We usually think of addiction as some type of chemical that is ingested or inhaled, such as nicotine or food or drinks. But we can easily become addicted to any habits or ideas if we spend extremely prolonged periods of time preoccupied by them. Technology addiction is dangerous because the long term effects have not really been seen. Such is the speed at which our technology is advancing.

Phone Addiction – A Common Occurrence

It seems that being addicted to the Internet or being addicted to a smartphone in particular is a fairly common compulsion in the 21st century. A quick search on the web will bring millions of results about people who complain of being addicted to their phones. Some people are so attached to their devices that they feel the need to constantly text people and search the net, even whilst driving, eating or performing potentially dangerous activities. There is a huge danger to the safety of smartphone addicts and the safety of others is often overlooked by a smartphone addict. Research and surveys from universities across the world have revealed that an increasing number of teenagers are spending more time than a full time job with Internet enabled devices.

Stop Smartphone Addiction Before it Becomes a Problem

The simple answer is to recognize and break bad habits before they become addictive. One way that many people make sure that their smartphone or Internet usage does not spiral out of control is to designate “No Phone Zones” during certain times or in certain locations and situations. For instance, at meal time, it is important to eat as a family and not dive off into cyberspace communicating with people over the Internet on smartphones. Texting while driving is a known hazardous distraction, and if they are not already doing it, parents need to lead by example and either leave the phone alone altogether while driving or utilize a co-pilot to manage their electronic communications for them. But is communicating from our cars really necessary? To a smartphone addict it is, but not too long ago the option was not even a possiblity.

No Phone Zone

The next ‘No Phone Zone’ should be bedrooms. The bedroom affords great amounts of privacy for anyone. My parents did not provide cable television access or a computer for my bedroom because this was before the days of computer monitoring software and they knew the kinds of material that would be readily available if given the privacy. With televisions and computers in the living room, my parents could see what I was up to at any time and determine if something was not suitable for their household. With smartphones and tablets, not only are the screens more portable, personal and interactive, but they are equipped with cameras and Internet access and are joining our children in bed and in the bathroom. Not only is this a bad idea in general, but it fosters the habits of smartphone addiction which can lead to instability, unmanageable lifestyles and bouts of depression.

Young children should not be allowed to spend a ridiculous amount of time surfing the web in the evenings because they need their sleep. The dangers of sitting up all night staring at an LED screen has been well documented recently as it can have an extremely detrimental effect on the sleep patterns of individuals who are using the devices. Sleep deprivation comes with a host of nasty side effects which are even worse for children. Children need long periods of sleep because they are still developing and the sleep is where most of that development happens. Hormones, the immune system and even growth can all be affected if your child does not get enough sleep at night.

Smartphones and tablets are a new invention that is still being defined by this younger generation. It seems as though it is perfectly normal for kids to spend time attached to their phones and we have to understand that smartphones are going to play an integral part in most of our lives in the future. Smartphones can be considered productive if they help our children learn because the entire consciousness and knowledge of humanity seems to be resting right there at their fingertips. Parents should focus more on the quality of their teen’s smartphone usage instead of only looking at the amount of time they are spending with their smartphone or tablet. If a child is spending 8 hours a day sending selfies to their friends and sharing foolish jokes or posting to the latest trends, then perhaps it is time to introduce them to the real world where things that matter most must be managed with our hands and our minds in order to function. It is the parent’s responsibility and only opportunity to make sure that their children will be ready for life on life’s terms by the time they graduate from school and become an adult.

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