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Get Off Your Phone

Published on December 14th, 2019 at 12:54 am

By Grant Wilson

Mobile phones play a pivotal role in today’s world full of technological reliance. The globe is full of technological advancement making new improvements every day. These advancements have caused people to communicate in ways that would be difficult to live without in recent years. Mobile phones have made everyday life easier as everything a person needs is on their device. New smart phones allow people to text, call, email, check social media, use maps, and more! They’ve become small computers to keep in your pocket at all times, giving people every reason to be on them throughout the day. Mobile phone use has seen a rapid growth in the last decade. Within the United States the amount of smartphone users has quadrupled between 2010 and 2019. There was once a time when inside a coffee shop a person would see people drinking coffee and reading newspapers. Now it’s a time where they’re filled with people drinking coffee while looking at their cell phones. Times have changed. The WARC (The World Advertising Research Center) estimates two billion people use smartphones to access the internet in the world right now. RescueTime, a tracking software that shows time spent on devices, states that on average people spend three hours on their phones and check their phones 58 times a day. Checking phones this many times a day obstructs working and is a mental block that recurs almost every few minutes. Phones buzz, ding, ring, and draw their owner to use them throughout the day. This expectation and need to check them constantly disrupts people’s days. People have become so reliant on smartphones that it’s become no different than being reliant on drugs, coffee, gambling, or any other common form of addiction. There are two different types of addiction: substance addiction and behavioral addiction. Substance addiction is when a person repeatedly uses or craves a substance, rather behavioral addiction is when a person is addicted to the behavior or feeling an action gives. When people think of substance addiction they usually imagine drugs or alcohol because these two substances are, sadly, extremely common. To have a substance addiction a person must be addicted to that substance, they must crave it like a little kid craving candy on Halloween. Behavioral addiction is different in that people become addicted to the actions and pleasure that the substance brings. The most common behavior addiction is the internet. People are not addicted to the internet itself, but they’re addicted to the action of surfing the internet and the feelings that come with it. Smartphones easily fall into the category of behavioral addiction as many people unconsciously are checking and using their phones seeking pleasurable rewards. These rewards can also be called dopamine. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that gives a feeling of pleasure. Everytime a person receives a notification or checks their phone they receive a mini shot of dopamine, or pleasure, into their brain. The brain then begins to seek that pleasure, relates the pleasure to the phone, and begins addictive behavior to receive more dopamine. This addiction is what causes people to check their phones over 58 times a day and be on their phone three or more hours a day. As technological advancement continues, people’s reliability on their phones will continue to increase as well; smartphone addiction will continue and isn’t leaving anytime soon. Smartphone addiction is a problem because its physical and psychological effects are harming people's health. Physically the addictive use of phones have brought harm to people’s hands, wrists, forearms, neck, back, eyes and more. Some common injuries include eye damage, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendinitis. Psychologically it has caused problems having to do with sociability, stress, and anxiety. These are all problems that are crucial to a person’s health. Some may argue that phone addiction is not causing these problems, but it’s actually social media and using multiple forms of technology every day causing them. This argument is flawed because it’s a combination of receiving texts or calls, playing games, social media, and more that are psychologically affecting people; the repeated motions from over using a phone is what brings the physical damage on nerves and muscles. The physical damage on these nerves and muscles is where to start. There are so many physical health risks that come with being addicted to smartphones. Looking at phones three hours or more per day, along with looking at other forms of computer screens can cause serious problems to eyesight. Hannah Sparks uses studies from the University of Toledo in her article, “Your phone is blinding you, scientists warn,” to show that the blue light that comes from phones are damaging photoreceptors and retina of the eye (Sparks). Professor Ajith Karunarathne even states, “It’s no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the retina”(Sparks). Blue light is dangerous because the cornea and lens of the eye cannot reflect or reduce the impact of the light, thus allowing the light to directly make contact with fragile photoreceptors. Doing things such as looking at phones in the dark and being on phones an excessive amount during the day can do additional damage as well. Reducing phone use may help a person’s eye site in the future. Addictive use of phones can also bring damage to your hands and forearms. Carpal tunnel syndrome is when swelling in the carpal tunnel part of your hand puts pressure on nerves causing pain, numbness, or tingling in the hand. Emma Korstanje states in her Postmagazine article, “Can cell Phones Lead to Carpal Tunnel syndrome,” that overuse of phones can cause irritation to nerves in the wrist that cause carpal tunnel syndrome (Korstanje). Experiments from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, showed that those who used phones five or more hours a day had more hand and wrist pain; They also had “enlarged and flattened” nerves that correlate to carpal tunnel syndrome as well (Korstanje). Another common physical effect to hands and forearms is tendinitis. Tendinitis is the inflammation of a tendon caused from an overuse of specific muscles. It’s most often seen among athletes in sports. For example in Basketball it’s common for athletes to have tendonitis in their knees, or for Baseball and Tennis they often have it around their forearms and elbows. For excessive phone users, tendonitis is often seen in people’s wrist and forearm. Amanda L. Chan states in her HuffPost article, “Text Claw: How to alleviate pain from too much smartphone use,” that overuse of phones can lead to muscles scarring, less mobility, and less strength without proper treatment. Chan gives the reader tips and stretches to ease the irritation, but finally states at the end of her article that simply diminishing phone use or taking a break from the phone is the best relieve pain. These specific injuries reinforce the statement, smartphone addiction is harming people’s health, as they show the direct result of overusing phones in hands, arms, and eyes. The results don’t just stop there though. Being addicted to phones has multiple psychological impacts as well. Sadly, poor psychological health is enormously seen through mobile phone use. Addictive use of phones is causing people to have different mental and psychological states of mind with versus without their phones. To start, addictive use of cellphones is causing a fence to be built that holds people back from improving on social skills. Tessa Jones states in her research article, “Students’ Cell Phone Addiction and Their Opinions,” that for adolescents, using a new phone often gives them “stronger social implications” among their friend groups (Jones). This gives students a sense of entitlement over those around them. By simply having an advanced phone, a person can raise their social esteem rather than using social skills and gaining the likes of others through words and actions. José De-Sola Gutiérrez, Fernando Rodríguez de Fonseca, and Gabriel Rubio, share similar findings in the research article, “Cell Phone Addiction: A Review.” They state how phones are important for social contact now, especially among adolescents where “social networks play a relevant role”(De-Sola Gutiérrez, Rodríguez de Fonseca, and Rubio). This dependence on phones, but more specifically social media, is pulling people away from actual conversation and social skills. This is bringing observations of less sociability for adolescents who have grown up around phones and among those who over use them. Addictive use of phones have also caused people to see psychological problems in terms of stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that people begin to have heightened stress and anxiety when without their phones. S. J Brian states in his report, “Two Days With No Phone,” that student participants that didn’t have their phone for 24 hours believed to have heard their phone ring and even feel it vibrate. Some also had a strong craving to check their missed calls or messages and some couldn’t stop fidgeting, feeling anxious, worried, or evenly lonely (Brian). To add to that, In Jones’ survey, she found 77% of students said they felt disconnected without their phones. This shows an exact correlation between the use of cell phones and the psychological harm it brings. José De-Sola Gutiérrez, Fernando Rodríguez de Fonseca, and Gabriel Rubio find in their article that use of the internet on phones has a substantial relation to depression while actions such as texting heighten people’s anxiety. Looking at successful, perfect, and exciting events other people have on the internet can always make a person feel inferior and depressed. Plus, that feeling of waiting for a person to text back, can bring a feeling of anxiety a person may not even realize they’re obtaining. The effect phones have on anxiety and stress is clear, and one that can simply be avoided by slowly lowering the use of the phone. The rapid increase in phone addiction is bringing people physical and psychological problems. Everyone is beginning to become more attached to their phones as technology becomes more depended on in society. Although this may make everyday life easier. The poor health effects are terrible for people’s bodies and minds. With people's lack of impulse control, we begin to see people using their phones an average of 3 hours, plus a large number of adolescents using their phones over five hours per day. Overuse is bringing injuries, damage to eyes, and psychological harm on bodies. Disappointedly, despite people being aware of the addiction and harm phones bring, the number of phones used in the world each day will continue to grow rapidly; These devices aren’t going away anytime soon. Phones are obstructing human interaction and are putting a brick wall on the road between humans and healthier lives. It’s time to break through that wall by turning phones all the way off, being conscious of those around, and becoming healthier human beings as the use of cell phones is reduced.

Works Cited

Chan, Amanda L. “Your IPhone Might Be Ruining Your Hand. Here's How To Prevent It.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 7 Dec. 2017, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/text-claw-pain-hand- smartphone_n_3825077.

José De-Sola Gutiérrez, Fernando Rodríguez de Fonseca,

Gabriel Rubio. “Cell-Phone Addiction: A Review.” NCBI. National Institute of Health, 16 October. 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5076301/

Korstanje, Emma, “Can Cell Phones Lead to Carpal Tunnel?” Pastemagazine.com, 3 July 2017, https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/06/today-in-health-news-that.html.

MacKay, Jory. “Screen Time Stats 2018: How Your Phone Impacts Your Workday – RescueTime.” RescueTime Blog, 5 Apr. 2019, https://blog.rescuetime.com/screen-time- stats-2018/.

Shoukat, Sehar. “Cell Phone Addiction and Psychological and Physiological Health in Adolescents.” EXCLI Journal, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, 4 Feb. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6449671/.