Nomophobia is a term that the medical field has actually come up with for the behavioral addiction to cell phones. It translates to no mobile phone phobia and various other terms such as mobile phone dependence can be associated with this addiction. Susan Ladika addresses in the article, Technology Addiction, that those who are addicted to cell phones had more neurotransmitter activity in the region of the brain tied to rewards, mood regulation, and control of inhibition (5).
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The brain of those addicted is actually being altered. Smartphones encourage multitasking. However, no matter how much one may feel accomplished by multitasking, it has been proven that multitasking decreases the level of performance in all tasks. Unless someone is a genius, for most people, it is nearly impossible to divide their attention evenly and effectively between several tasks. One common example of multitasking is distracted driving. People feel enticed to look at their phones while in control of a vehicle. This proves to be extremely dangerous because driving requires undivided attention. Despite this being known as common knowledge, people still look at their phones while driving or even just stopped at a light. In the article The Smartphone Effect, Becca Broaddus reports that The United States Department of Transportation reported cell phones are involved in 1.6 million auto crashes each year that cause a half million injuries and take approximately 6,000 lives (12). Increased use of cell phones has also been proven to desensitize people to sensational content, such as violence, sex, and drugs. Never before has such content been so accessible and pervasive. Authors, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and Gloria DeGaetano, point out in Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill, that by age eighteen, a U.S. youth will have seen at last 40,000 stimulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence (15). This is all thanks to the media, in which violent videos draw in more revenue.
The more one uses their phone, the higher the chance they use social media more often. According to Sherry Turkle, the author of Reclaiming Conversation, the pressure of appearing perfect and fabricating this perfect life is mentally and emotionally exhausting. Thus, misuse of cell phones leads to feelings of depression and social anxiety (25). Loss of focus, feeling of depression and anxiety, and the large chunk of time a cellular device takes from a person, all combined, lead to lower academic performance. School work is no longer at the forefront of student’s brains, but rather their cellphones or their feelings of sadness.
Symptoms of cell phone dependence also include several disorders. Cell phones deliver instant gratification. A person can get a package from Amazon the next day, people respond to text messages within a few minutes, and so on. Ramanpreet Kaur and Saroj Sharma Nagpal explain how people who are impulsive are psychologically unable to choose delayed rewards which may offer more, over immediate ones. They neglect the consequences and only seek instant gains (Kaur and Nagpal 2). Such risky behavior can lead to dangerous situations. Nomophobia has also been related to textiety, which has been put forth by Charet Taneja in the article, The Psychology of Excessive Cellular Phone Use, to be the fear of not receiving or sending messages. This fear may be due to the underlying and greater fear of being isolated socially and ridiculed or ignored. As mentioned by Taneja, excessive cell phone use also leads to ringxiety and textaphrenia. These are disorders in which people experience an auditory hallucination in which they hear their phone ringing due to an incoming call. In reality, however, no such event occured. Furthermore, people may imagine feeling their phone vibrate in their pocket (2). When their cell phone is taken away, people who are addicted tend to get stressed and anxious. Their brain is insistently craving for that rush of dopamine. Such anxiety can make people lash out and be very moody. They feel on edge and can become angry and create tense situations with their fits of anger. Even though a withdrawal symptom does not encompass direct death, the quality of people’s lives is being affected. They invest their time towards a hand-held device, rather than investing in their familial, friend, romantic, and even intrapersonal relationship.
Interpersonal skills relate to those set of skills which are essential for the positive communication between two people. These skills are used to help build and strengthen relationships and to work effectively with others. More time spent on online interactions leads to less empathy. For kids, especially, they are still learning right from wrong and often are unaware of the enormity of their actions. Now take phones which have messaging apps that guarantee anonymity. These kids can easily say mean words and not recognize that what they said was hurtful because they are unable to see the person’s reaction in live-time. Instead, a screen greets them back as they feel comfortable in the confines of their home. Another form of neglect for face-to-face interactions is the habit of phubbing. Broaddus writes that phubbing, for example, is a situation where someone is using their phone while having a conversation with someone in the flesh (Broaddus 12). It gives the subliminal message, whether people mean it or not, that their phone is a little more important and worthy of their attention rather than the person they are talking to. The feelings of the other person may get hurt and the divided attention of the person phubbing leads to more superficial conversations with little direct eye contact. Consequently, both phubbing and a lack of empathy impede the growth of a relationship, and may even reverse its progression. This creates more opportunities for less trust, intimacy, and more lying in relationships overall. Some people may even get to the point where they cut off face-to-face interactions almost completely, and instead, spend all their time on their cell phones. These people feel that they have all they need and do not realize how crucial face-to-face interactions are for the human psyche. In the flesh interactions improve listening skills, conversation skills, allow people to learn how to stand up for themselves, and even lead to higher self-esteem. All these aspects of interpersonal skills work together to help build meaningful, strong connections. Due to an addiction to smartphones, intrapersonal skills are negatively impacted, and in turn, relationships are harmed.
More conflicts and superficial relationships arise due to a person who is smartphone dependent. People swipe left and right, but there seems to an endless number of potential partners. This would be awkward in real life, but online, it is normalized. Such an environment, however, makes it more difficult to develop a secure and trusting relationship. Furthermore, according to Jeff Cain in the article, It’s Time to Confront Student Mental Health Issues Associated with Smartphones and Social Media, online friendships lack emotional nourishment (2). Someone with six-hundred online friends can feel helplessly alone because compared to real-life relationships built upon face-to-face interactions, virtual relationships lack in meaning. There is no physical contact or eye contact over texting, which can reinforce a tender moment. Also, over text things can be edited, which hinders a person’s ability to deal with others and express themselves clearly. Ultimately, texting and even talking over the phone is drastically different from actually being together.
A lack of empathy makes it much easier for kids to turn to cyber-bullying. In the book, Cyberbullying and the Wild Wild Web, author J.A. Hitchcock defines cyberbullying as the repeated communications online after the harasser has been asked to stop (15). They do not realize the enormity of the words they have said. Moreover, social media leads to more opportunities for drama to happen. This is because people can feel encouraged to keep stirring the pot. With the want to impress their friends and express dominance, kids bully other kids online. People have to be careful about what they do online because what they do will be online forever. Additionally, the right people can learn everything about a person from online. They can learn the name, friends, and even the location of the target. Cyberstalking is a serious situation, in which the police should be contacted. People are evidently aware of the threat. In a 2018 survey conducted by Deloitte, respondents expressed their greatest concern about sharing personal data with third parties and about usage of their personal data. 86 percent are very or fairly concerned about each one (Global 8). Privacy, along with the temptation to start drama and the viewing of sexual content needs to be kept under control. Otherwise, delinquent behaviors will arise and affect society.
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