FEATURES: Cell Phone Addiction Has Many Negative Effects

(Photo courtesy huffpost.com)

(Photo courtesy huffpost.com)

By Malena Araujo – Staff Reporter

The advancement of cell phones has made many conveniences for users over the years, but has it caused an unhealthy addiction towards these devices? Ana Veciana Suarez, a writer for The Miami Herald, has admitted to feeling a compulsion towards her device and thinks that she would be lost without it.

“My phone is never more than arm’s length away,” said Suarez. “It charges overnight on my night stand, which means that it is the first thing I reach for in the morning and the last thing I touch before crawling into bed.”

Suarez has avoided ”awkward” social situations by using her phone and has seen others do the same. Lately, she has been witnessing more and more people staring at their phone at parties rather than enjoying the company of others. She spends hours on her phone daily and feels very dependent on it.

“Cell phones, smartphones especially, are the 21st century’s blankie,” said Suarez. “The nifty little device that offers instant communication with far-flung loved ones also serves as savior of awkward social situations.”

Although cell phones could cause a negative effect on everyone’s social skills, Suarez believes is it has helped her life sufficiently .

“It organizes my life, keeps track of family birthdays, reminds me of pending projects and allows me to be a button away from my grandchildren,” Suarez said.

Despite that, Suarez does admit that she could be developing an unhealthy addiction and wants to stop immediately.

Suarez is one of many who believes that their phone has taken over their life. According to a recent Time Magazine poll, 84 percent of respondents say that they could not go a single day without their cell phones.

People didn’t always feel this constant need to be on their phones. Overtime, technology has advanced significantly and cell phones are one of the best examples that represent this growth.

Cell phones have progressed greatly since 1973 when the first one was invented. They have gone from two pound blocks that were a hassle to carry around to these thin touch screens that weigh 4.55 ounces and are seen as a necessity to carry. These advancements are what sparked this fixation to cell phones.

“I not only love having a cell phone, there are so many things I use my iPhone for that I not only want it as my constant companion, but need it by my side at all times,” said Marcy Weinburg, a writer for Fedora Outlier LLC.

Addiction is defined as the fact or condition of being addicted/dependent to a particular substance,thing or activity. Popular addictions include abuse or overuse of drugs, alcohol, gambling and food. Cell phones can easily be added to this list.

“Whatever it is, I am hooked for sure,” Weinburg said. “If I was asked to name the three modern conveniences I own that I wouldn’t want to be without, my iPhone would be way at the top of the list.”

One of today’s most popular cell phone is the iPhone. According to The Statista Portal, in 2010 about 5.6 percent of the entire U.S. population owned iPhones, which increased to 19.8 percent in 2014. This implies that about 63.2 million people in the U.S. own an iPhone.

The reason why people find this cell phone so admirable is because it is easy to use and provides many conveniences. Cell phones are used not only to make calls, but now to send texts, shares photos/videos and surf the internet. Also, phones can now hold notes and music. All these conveniences have greatly contributed to this addiction to the cell phone.

Cindy Springsteen, a poet and mother of two teens, is worried for the teenagers who are constantly glued to their cellphones. In her article for stressfreekids.com, she writes about how she is worried for future communication.

“My children have sent me a text message from the next room, while I am within hearing distance!” Springsteen said. “As you walk around today, wherever you seem to go, there is not a teen walking without a phone attached to their ear or fingers busy moving sending a text message.”

Are cell phones killing social communication/human interaction? According to a national survey from CTIA and Harris Interactive, their study confirmed that texting is replacing talking amongst teens. Teens admitted to spending nearly an equal amount of time talking as they do texting each month. The feature is so important to them that if texting were no longer an option 47% of teens say their social life would end or be worsened.

Randall Sokoloff is a writer, artist and psychotherapist who believes that he is competing with an iPhone 5 for his wife’s attention.

“While driving, eating, walking, hanging out on the couch, gardening, sitting by the pool- we were always engaged in some kind of conversation,” Sokoloff said. “We looked into each other’s eyes at least a hundred times a day and it felt good knowing that her attention was consistently focused on me.”

Sokoloff claims that all of that attention changed when the iPhone 5 came out. At first, Sokoloff didn’t notice how much his wife was dependent on the phone, but later realized the phone consumed a lot her time. He believes it had gradually made it’s way into their marriage. His wife would use it excessively reducing the time that they spend together. Sokoloff also believes that future relationships will adapt and being on your smartphone whilst your partner is around will be normal.

“As human beings we seem to be evolving further and further away from one another and more and more into the compact space of a digital screen,” Sokoloff said.

According to Daily Mail, smartphone users spend 33 percent more time on their phone rather than with their partner. This shows how cellphone users are becoming more dependent on the company of a device than the company of their partner.

Melissa Nilles, an Arts & Entertainment Editor for The Bottom Line, wrote an article about how technology is destroying the quality of human interaction.

Nilles writes about how she absentmindedly avoids human interaction almost everyday. When recapping her day with her friend she would text her for hours rather than going out for a cup of coffee. She would email her professor rather than visit him during office hours. Unfortunately, losing the relationship between teacher and student when needing letters of recommendation. She has admitted to spending hours “catching up” with her 1000+ friends on Facebook, but never plans to actually meet with them. In her article, she compares all of this to a nightmare.

“Little by little, Internet and mobile technology seems to be subtly destroying the meaningfulness of interactions we have with others, disconnecting us from the world around us, and leading to an imminent sense of isolation in today’s society,” Niles said.

Besides the decrease in social interaction, cell phone overuse unfortunately has more than just one negative effect. Amanda Hawkins, a writer for goodhousingkeeping.com, listed five bad side effects of smartphone addiction. A phobia called nomophobia, which is the fear of being without your phone, is popular amongst smartphones addicts.

“Some of the symptoms of nomophobia include anxiety or negative physical symptoms if you have lost or cannot use your cell phone, obsessively checking to make sure you have your phone with you, and constantly worrying about losing it somewhere,” said Hawkins.

According to a survey created by OnePoll in the UK, two thirds of the 1,000 respondents fear losing or being without their mobile phone.

Another unhealthy effect of phone addiction popular amongst user is Phantom Pocket Vibration Syndrome. This syndrome is a disorder where the user feels as if their phone is vibrating when it actually isn’t.

“A professor at Indiana University found that 89 percent of the undergraduates in her study experienced phantom vibrations when their phones weren’t actually vibrating,” said Hawkins. “The study also found that students who were dependent on text messages and social media updates were more anxious when their phones weren’t really vibrating.”

The most dangerous side effect of phone addiction is texting and driving. According to textinganddrivingsafety.com, 84 percent of Americans age 16-17 own a cellphone. 34 percent of those Americans have admitted to texting while driving and 52 percent have made a call while driving. Texting and driving is the cause of nearly 25 percent of all car accidents and 330,000 injuries each year. Over one million accidents are caused by texting and driving each year and about 11 teen deaths every day.

Although seemingly harmless phone addiction is very dangerous. Smartphones have changed users in the best and absolute worst ways. To prevent phone addiction, users must limit their time wisely, interact more, and know when to put the phone down.

(Some information courtesy childmind.org, marketingcharts.com, stressfreekids.com, miamiherald.com, thebottomline.as.ucsb., textinganddrivingsafety.com, fedoraoutlier.com, themanifeststation.net, and goodhouskeeping.com)

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