FRANCISCO —It’s well-known that
smartphone, or more broadly, digital addiction can result in many
negative mental effects on people over time. Recentresearcheven
found it creates a brain imbalance in teens. Now a new study finds
that over-attachment to your phone can cause serious social problems —
boosting feelings of loneliness and isolation — while worsening
anxiety and depression symptoms.
have become useful, everyday tools that essentially manage our daily
lives. From calendars to calorie monitors to sleep aids, smartphone
owners find themselves constantly glancing at their screens from the
minute they wake up to the seconds before hitting the sack.
Whether it’s reading push notifications, responding to dings and
vibrations, or constantly refreshing one’s Facebook newsfeed on the
go, the need for phone time is becoming a more serious problem.
behind the study, conducted at San Francisco State University, liken
smartphone addiction to opioid dependency, arguing that overuse of a
mobile device is no different from substance abuse.
behavioral addiction of smartphone use begins forming neurological
connections in the brain in ways similar to how opioid addiction is
experienced by people taking Oxycontin for pain relief — gradually,”
explains Erik Peper, co-lead author of the study and professor of
health education at the school, in a newsrelease.
ubiquity of smartphones today betrays their usefulness, but app
developers and tech companies are highly incentivized to create
features that draw your eyes, and your attention, as much as
possible. “More eyeballs, more clicks, more money,” comments
and co-author Richard Harvey surveyed 135 students at the university
about their smartphone usage and general digital habits. The
researchers found that the students that used their phones the most
reported feeling more lonely and isolated than peers less dependent on
their devices. The most frequent users also reported higher levels of
depression and anxiety.
and his team theorized that the loneliness increase is due to the
replacement of face-to-face interaction with screen-based interaction,
which often cuts off forms of simultaneous communication such as body
language. The researchers also found that those who used their
smartphones the most were constantly multitasking when doing things
like studying, eating, or watching other media. The constant activity
allows little time for the body and mind to relax and regenerate, and
causes what the researchers called “semi-tasking,” in which the
students performed several tasks at once, but did them all about half
as well as if they did them one at a time.
he researchers are quick to take the blame away from the study
participants. Apps are using the same neural pathways that humans have
to warn them of danger. “But now we are hijacked by those same
mechanisms that once protected us and allowed us to survive — for the
most trivial pieces of information,” says Peper.
you feel like your smartphone is taking over your life, Peper suggests
turning off push notifications, limiting email and social media use to
certain times of the day, and setting aside time to take on tasks
without any use of your digital devices.
studywas published in the