Impact of Mobile Phone in our Daily Life

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In July 21, 2015, a car accident happened when Carlee R. Bollig, an unlicensed teen driver, ran a red light and crashed her pickup truck into a minivan as she updated Facebook on her phone. Charles, the driver of the van, and his 10-year-old daughter Cassy were killed while Bollig and three others in her pickup were injured but survived.

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Figure 1. “The July 21 crash scene at the intersection of Highway 10 and Sherburne County Road 11 in between Big Lake and Becker showed the mangled remains of Charles P. Maurer’s minivan after being struck by distracted driver Carlee Rose Bollig who had been exchanging Facebook messages in the minutes leading up to the crash. Maurer and his 10-year-old daughter, Cassy, both died.” Source: Star News

Accidents like this increased noticeably as mobile phone addiction became more and more pervasive, especially among American young users. Even though a few people still doubt about the reality of this problem, many researchers and most customers already admitted cell phone addiction was a real thing. With the rapid innovation of the phone itself and the invention of social media, more people started to have phone and use it excessively, aggravating cell phone addiction. The perpetuating factor of cell phone addiction is similar to that in drug abuse – using phone increases dopamine level in human brain which makes people feel rewarded and want to use phone more (Lennington 13087). This problem turned out to have numerous negative effects on human. Distraction from cell phone use caused thousands of car accidents and tragic deaths. Overusing phone also damaged human’s physical and psychological health.

Mobile phone addiction is the obsessive use of phone which causes the user’s daily life to be interrupted. According to American Psychiatric Association, addiction is an excessive use of a substance leading to interference of the user’s life, manifested by physical or psychological dependence (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Based on this definition, excessive phone use is an addiction because it interrupts many aspects of human lives. For example, a student who spends too much time on phone has less time to study and therefore reduces his/her academic performance. This example also demonstrates one of the typical symptoms of mobile phone dependence described by professor Choliz Mariano in 2010, “interference with other school or personal activities” (Choliz, 374). Other symptoms of phone dependence he mentioned include “problems with parents associated with excessive use,” “a gradual increase in mobile phone use to obtain the same level of satisfaction,” and “emotional alterations when phone use is impeded” (Choliz, 374). The last symptom is known as nomophobia or having the feeling of anxiety for being out of cell phone contact (Cresswell). Because people using phone excessively developed dependence symptoms similarly to those using drug and had their live destructively interfered, it is reasonable to claim that cell phone addiction was a problem. As cell phone is constantly innovated, this problem continues prevailing over time. The sad reality of humans trapped in mobile phone addiction is demonstrated through the animation made by Steve Cutts.

Figure 2. “Control The Madness Before It’s Too Late.” Source: Youtube.

While a few people still doubts whether phone addiction really exists, this issue and its related problem, nomophobia, already affected many young people around the world, especially in America. According to Pew Research Center, 73% of American teens had access to a smartphone in 2015, and 100% of people aged 18 to 29 had cell phone in 2018.

Figure 3. Percentage of teens have access to different types of cell phones. Source: Pew Research Center.

More noticeably, teens spent about 2 hours 42 minutes daily on their phone, and those having smartphones spent about 4 hours 38 minutes every day on their phone, according to Common Sense Media’s census of media use 2015. These numbers are relatively small compared to 24 hours per day. However, according to a 2011 study from the National Center for Education Statistics, on average, high school students spent 6.8 hours every week or about 1 hour daily on homework, meaning students spent more time on phone than on homework.

Cell phone addiction and its related problem, nomophobia, were also common in Turkish young people. Administering the Nomophobia Questionnaire (NMP-Q) to 537 Turkish college students, Caglar Yildirim, a professor at Iowa State University, and his research group found out that “in 2015, 42.6% of young adults had nomophobia, and their greatest fears were related to communication and information access” (Yildirim 1322). This result means that for every 10 young people, four of them had nomophobia, and in this particular study, about 215 students experienced nomophobia. Based on these data, it is convincing to claim that a lot of young people in America and other countries were addicted to cell phone, manifested through nomophobia and the amount of time they spent on this device.

While the data about the popularity of cell phone overuse may be surprising to many people, researchers in 2000 already recognized the issue of cellphone addiction. For example, in “Alcohol, Drug, and Cell Phone Addiction: Twelve steps to recovery” article, which was published in May 18th 2000, Dr. John Gyorki gave a clear description of phone abusers, “when on the phone, these abusers change their voices from normal conversational tones to screaming or shouting.” Dr. Gyorki’s vivid description about phone abusers shows that this problem has existed for many years. Even though phone addiction appeared long time ago and people took phone for granted, this was not always the case. In fact, the first handheld mobile phone was invented only 46 years ago and the term “smartphone” did not appear until 1995. With the rising of technology, cell phone developed from a call-only 1.1 kg device (1973) to a 138-g smartphone with multifunction, such as connecting to Internet, thus social media, playing games, watching movies, etc. These innovations caused more teens to use phone. According to a 2011 study conducted by Pew Internet and American Life Project, 75% of teens owned cell phone, rising up from 45% in 2004. Last year, 2018, 95% of teens reported they owned a smartphone, according to Pew Research Center.

The amount of time people used phone also increased noticeably. This trend is reflected in the following chart cited from Flurry. In 2016, one person spent about 5 hours per day on mobile devices, including phones and tablets, rising up from 2 hours and 42 minutes in 2013.

Figure 4. The average amount of time, in minutes per day, a U.S consumer spends on mobile devices from 2013 to 2016. Source: Flurry.

Another study conducted by comScore reported that on average, one U.S customer spent about 2 hours and 51 minutes per day on phone in 2016. Last year, 2018, eMarketer calculated that Americans spent about 3 hours, 35 minutes daily on their phones, an annual increase of more than 20 minutes. These data clearly show that the amount of time people use their phone increased rapidly. What caused people to spend more and more time on their phone?

The leading factor is the invention of social media. With the creation of Facebook in 2004, Youtube in 2005, Twitter in 2006, Instagram in 2010, and Snapchat in 2011, people had more reasons to use their phone. This is also what Deloitte, a multinational professional services network, found in July 2017. After conducting a survey of 1634 U.S smartphone owners, they reported that U.S smartphone users checked their phone 47 times a day and about 60% of them said that they checked phone for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or other social media notifications. Another study by Bank Mycell proved the causal relationship between social media and the increasing amount of phone usage. This survey reported that in 2016, the average phone user spent 76 minutes a day on their phone to use the top 5 social media apps – Facebook, Youtube, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. Combined by the mentioned data from comScore about the amount of time people used phone in the same year, this means that using social media accounted for almost half of the time people spent on their phone. In another word, if social media had not exist, people would have reduced the amount of time they spent on phone by half.

Worse, once people started to use social media on phone, they were trapped into the cell phone addiction cycle. Similar to taking an addictive drug, using social media on phone increases the level of dopamine which triggers human brain’s reward system. As dopamine makes people feel rewarded, any action increasing the level of this chemical is reinforced (Kalivas 223). By bringing good news and social support, such as an updated story in Snapchat, a comment in Instagram, or simply a “Like” in Facebook, cell phone triggers this “happy” chemical. However, because dopamine is soon metabolized, people are unconsciously induced to check their phone frequently to get a little hit of it. Furthermore, similarly to drug tolerance which refers to a person’s diminished response to a drug, phone users need to check phone more frequently and spend more time on this device to get the same level of satisfaction. This cycle continues endlessly, leading to harmful effect for phone users.

As people became addicted to phone, they suffered many negative effects from this problem. The immediate consequence is that cell phone put its users and other people into danger, as in case of accident caused by Bollig in July 2015. Another example is a Missouri accident on August 5, 2010. This deadly crash was caused by a 19-year-old pickup truck driver who was texting a friend about events of the previous night when he rammed his truck into the back of a semi truck, making a school bus behind him to crash into his vehicle and a second school bus to crash into the rear of the first school bus. The man and a 15-year-old student were killed instantly while 38 other people were seriously injured.

Figure 5. The terrible scene of an accident involving two school buses, a tractor-trailer and another passenger vehicle near Gray Summit, Mo., in August 2010. Source: Associated Press

Accidents caused by distraction from cell phone use were indeed not unusual. According to National Highway Traffic Administration, cell phone use caused 69,000 crashes and 476 fatalities in 2015.

Aside from leading to car accidents, cell phone addiction also caused other horrific deaths. For instance, in Irving, Texas, in 2015, Patricia Allen’s three children drowned in the swimming pool where she stood nearby but kept looking down at her phone entire time. Another tragic happened with Wendy Rybolt of Bartonville, Illinois. In July 2014, Rybolt’s house got fired. The woman and her daughter were able to get out with no injury, but then Rybolt realized that she had left her phone inside the house, so she ran back inside to retrieve it. She could not escape the fire the second time.

Patricia Allen Wendy Rybolt

Aside from putting users into these immediate dangers, cell phone also has many long-term effects on human health. Cell phones work by sending and receiving signals to nearby cell towers using radiofrequency (RF) radiation. This type of radiation has a low energy that does not damage human body tissues in a short period of time. However, as the power level and exposure time increases, the amount of RF radiation soon exceeds the level human body can accommodate and cause many harmful effect, including “Neurodegenerative Disorders –Alzheimer, Parkinson’s Immune System Degradation, Tinnitus and Ear Damage, Irreversible infertility” (Singh 153). Cell phone addiction also causes eyesight problem because excessive blue light emission from phone damages retina and causes muscular degeneration, leading to loss of vision.

Aside from affecting users’ physical health, cell phone also impairs their psychological health. In fact, many studies already proved high mobile phone use led to depression and sleep disorder. After conducting a 1-year cohort study on 4156 young adults 20-24 years old in 2011, Psychologist Sara Thomee at University of Gothenburg found that high frequency of mobile phone use is associated with sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression for both men and women (Thomee). Her result is supported by biological evidence. People addicted to phone usually sleep with or around their phones, and the blue light emitted from this device “had been shown to reduce levels of melatonin, a chemical produced by the body that aids restful sleep” (“Parents Urged To Ban Phone”). Cell phone addiction is indeed a real problem which caused thousands of car accidents and tragic deaths. In addition, this problem has numerous negative impact on the alive users.

Cell phone is a wonderful device which has solved many human issues. However, the phone itself became a problem as users used them uncontrollably. With the rapid innovation of the phone itself and the invention of social media, more people began to have phones. Once people started to use social media on this device, they were trapped into cell phone addiction cycle because phone usage increased the dopamine level in human brain, urging them to use phone even more. This problem in turn caused numerous dangers, as well as damaged people’s physical and psychological health.

Works Cited

“Mobile Fact sheet.” Pew Research Center, 5 Feb 2018. Accessed 26 Jan 2019.

Lennington, Jessica B, et al. “Midbrain Dopamine Neurons Associated with Reward

Processing Innervate the Neurogenic Subventricular Zone.” The Journal of Neuroscience?: the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, vol. 31, no. 37, Sept. 2011, pp. 13078–87, doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1197-11.2011.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. American Psychiatric Association,

4th Edition, Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

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Impact Of Mobile Phone In Our Daily Life. (2021, Jun 24). Retrieved February 3, 2023 , from

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