Back in the days, we only think of illegal drugs when we hear the word addiction. But as the world progressed and we are enjoying more tech advancements today than our ancestors, we face an entirely new breed of distractions: smartphones. Yes, these shiny, sleek, and multi-functional gadgets (and don’t forget expensive too) are a delight to its owners and allowed us to bid the word “boredom” goodbye. Just as long as you have multiple apps and “WiFi” to fuel your tech needs, you can survive your day without feeling deprived of anything yet still stay in the loop on most events and the viral trends there is in the world today.
What most of us fail to realize that this over-dependence on smartphones is already an addiction that must be addressed the soonest time possible. This favorite pastime of many is found to be an obsession – and just like any obsession, is not always good for us. Imagine how you feel when you realize you left your phone at home or can no longer see it from where you last left it. It can make anyone anxious until they see their fave device once more. Throughout the course of the day, you are also likely to check in on your device every few minutes or so especially now that you have social media accounts downloaded on your phones that basically connects you to the world at large and satiates your #FOMO.
In the same way, we, as adults, reexperience touching and belonging through our phones. Technology affords a space where the self can be satisfied, play and feel alive – a space previously provided by caregivers.
When we hold our phones, it reminds us of moments of intimacy – whether from our childhood or from our adult life. The brain chemical dopamine and love hormone oxytocin, which play a role in the addiction “high,” kick in. These chemicals also create a sense of belonging and attachment.
Holding our phone has the same effect as when a parent looks lovingly at her child or when two lovers gaze into each other’s eyes. In the words of Apple executive Philip Schiller: The iPhone X “learns who you are.”
Theological reflection also supports what we have learned about dopamine and oxytocin. The Judeo-Christian tradition, for example, identifies God as an intimate God who seeks face time and creates caring environments.
For many of you who grew up at a time when mobile phones were already a thing, you probably see your phone as an extension of yourself, where you are able to project yourself to everyone else in your contact list. It is hard to disconnect yourself from these devices because you basically grew up with them that you’d easily feel upset once these devices are no longer in sight. Moreover, it supports our need to interact with others as social animals that we are.
“The smartphone has become a repository of the self,” wrote Nicholas Carr in the Oct. 6 Wall Street Journal, “recording and dispensing the words, sounds and images that define what we think, what we experience and who we are.” For many, this is increasingly true. It’s also flat-out creepy. As Carr and a growing number of smartphone resisters note, our foremost national addiction isn’t good for anyone’s mental health.
Studies have linked smartphones to decreased concentration, lower problem-solving skills, a general sense of “brain drain” and depression. A growing number of Silicon Valley insiders — including Justin Rosenstein, who invented the Facebook “Like” button — are publicly pushing back against highly developed and intentionally addictive social-media apps that they compare to heroin.
If adults can’t handle smartphone technology, how could kids possibly stand a chance? Despite this, and despite the fact that it seems highly questionable to hand an immature young person what is essentially a very expensive portable internet porn finder/social-media stalking system/mean girls text center, American kids are getting smartphones at earlier and earlier ages. The average age of acquisition, in fact, is currently 10 years old.
It is easy to lose track of time with your smartphone in hand. It has definitely affected the focus and productivity of people especially employees now that almost everyone owns one. And the thing is we don’t really do anything worthwhile as we scan our newsfeed and stalk people we feel like stalking like exes or stars we idolize yet we spend a great deal of time going through social media just to keep our curiosity satiated. Indeed, it is a big waste of time, simply put. There’s no denying that. While there are times the use of smartphones proves to be helpful, most of the time it isn’t. This addiction is causing a “brain drain” that is making many of us dumber by the day as we twist words and abbreviate them or use text slangs that confuse us on the real meaning of words or generally make us lazy to do and learn something truly productive. Smartphone addiction is a modern-day heroin addiction that must be regulated but is easier said than done unless you decide to go live off-grid.
If there’s one thing you can be thankful of for smartphones is that it reduces your risk of having to deal with serious data loss from a laptop, as an example, since you are basically just operating a handheld device that isn’t as complex as the inner workings of a traditional computer or laptop. Now, it is up to you how to curb your addiction to these smart devices before it wreaks havoc in your life.