America is experiencing information overload more than ever before and it looks like it’ll only increase. With increased knowledge comes increased responsibility. Technology has boomed over the centuries but we’re not here to say that technology itself is a bad thing. You may have even been able to access this article through your phone, or through a shared link. Technology is very helpful and benefits our lives. It is a part of our jobs, social network, emergencies, finding useful information.
But, and this is a big but – Just as we can become addicted to alcohol, drugs, and other things, we can become addicted to our screens. Has your phone replaced your brain?
The concern now lies in how integrated our smartphones have become in our lives. We now rely on our phones for basic human functions. Do you find yourself not able to recall how to navigate to destinations without using a GPS system in your phone? I’m reminded me of the times when I’d have to pull out my folding map, squint, and call out directions using the map. Relying on landmarks was necessary, and “paved” the way for us to remember how to get around. Now, our reliance on smartphones has discouraged our ability to reason and analyze and have instead increased our desire for instant gratification. Now, we’re hardly able to cope without our phones in our hands.
Are you addicted?
Addiction works on dopamine levels. It’s what causes us to seek out pleasurable experiences, and it encourages us to keep seeking pleasure once we receive the “reward.” And so, we find ourselves in a cycle of seek-and-reward. This cycle is common in our daily lives and is an important function of nature, such as the basic necessities of life and companionship. But what about in the case of smartphones?
The reason why it’s easier to become addicted to technology than it is to other things is because we never truly become “full” as we do when we eat a meal. This causes less satisfaction, and our desire to seek out more becomes stronger.
Of course, none of us like to think we’re addicted to our phones. We reason that we need our smartphone because this e-mail, that text, or that viral video is important. That is true some of the time, but there are a few tell-tale signs of when we are in control of our phone use, and when it is in control of us.
Cell phone addictions involve:
Sleep disturbances and insomnia caused by heavy phone usage
Reliance on the phone to experience satisfaction and relaxation
Feelings of anxiety or irritability when separated from the phone or when faced by the inability to use it (for example, when you realize your phone is low on battery)
Feelings of loneliness or swift mood changes when you’re unable to send messages or receive immediate responses
Continued and conscious phone use in dangerous situations, such as while driving, and loss of interest in other activities
Preference of using the phone instead of personal interaction
(Submitted by Betty Dean. Used by permission from www.lifeandhealth.org. Courtesy of LifeSpring – Resources for Hope and Healing Stuart, VA)