Advertising
Advertising

Get Over Your Smartphone Addiction

Get Over Your Smartphone Addiction

    At dinner with a friend last weekend, we lamented our husband’s incessant use of smartphones while “spending time” with our children. It turns out we are not alone. Smartphones are not just for work. They are for everything, all the time.

    Advertising

    A Documented Phenomenon

    According to a recent study by the UK-based Ofcoms, smartphone addiction is reaching epidemic proportions.  When asked about the use of their smartphone devices, 37 percent of adult participants admitted they were highly addicted to their devices.

    Advertising

    Over half of adult respondents claimed they have used their smartphones will socializing with others, nearly a quarter have used them during mealtimes, and over a fifth used them while in the bathroom.

    Advertising

    Another study originally published in the Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing concurred that smartphones are taking over some people’s lives. The researchers identified what they call a “checking habit” – when you repetitively look at your device for 30 seconds or less and access a single application. Apparently, this is a habitual response to boredom, and/or the need for constant distraction. It is easy to see how an out-of-control checking habit could result in negative consequences ranging from a traffic accident to a strained relationship with a family member.

    And How Does That Make You Feel?

    David Greenfield, Ph.D. is a psychologist and the author of Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyberfreaks, and Those Who Love Them (non-affiliate link).  In Susan Davis’ article for WebMD,Greenfield is quoted as saying that computer technologies can be addictive because they’re psychoactive, alter mood, and often trigger enjoyable feelings. E-mail in particular gives us satisfaction due to variable ratio reinforcement, meaning that we never know when we’ll get a great e-mail, so we keep checking over and over again.

    So how do you avoid becoming a slave to your smartphone without throwing the baby out with the bathwater?  Here, some tips:

    • Don’t buy the Lexus of phones: There is no need to purchase the most feature-rich, complex device on the market just because it’s available. Select a phone that meets your needs and ignore the bells and whistles that will only serve to confuse you.
    •  Don’t go app crazy: The more apps, the slower your phone works, and the faster it runs out of battery. Constantly buzzing and beeping apps can also be distracting. The truth is, most people only use between 5-10 apps regularly. So stop the downloading madness.
    •  Leave the phone in another room: If you constantly have the urge to check your smartphone, leave it in another room so that you aren’t tempted to pick it up. This is especially useful if you have set aside time to do something away from your phone, like finish a report or play a game with your family.
    •  If you’re talking to someone, don’t answer it: Unless you are expecting an urgent call, do not allow your phone to interrupt an in-person conversation.  Sneaking peeks at your phone or typing away on it while someone is trying to command your attention will negatively impact your relationships and productivity.
    (Photo credit: young businessman playing with his cell from Shutterstock)
    Advertising

    More by this author

    How to Cope with Rejection at Work Do You Unnecessarily Point Out Flaws? 5 Keys to Building Networks Over Time Is Flex-tirement the New Retirement? Does the Y Chromosome Inspire Confidence?

    Trending in Communication

    1 What Is Self Actualization? 13 Traits of a Self-Actualized Person 2 Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression 3 20 Things People Regret the Most Before They Die 4 How to Deal with Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide) 5 10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on June 24, 2019

    Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

    Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

    A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

    Social Media Could Lead to Depression

    Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

    Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

    If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

    • low self-esteem,

    • negative self-talk,

    Advertising

    • a low mood,

    • irritability,

    • a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

    • and social withdrawal.

    If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

    Advertising

    Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

    We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

    Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

    Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

    Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

    Why We Need to Take This Seriously

    Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

    Advice on Social Media Use

    Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

    Advertising

    One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

    Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

    Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

    If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

    Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

    Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

    Advertising

    Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

    Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

    The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

    Reference

    Read Next