My name is Michael and I’m a smartphone-aholic. It’s been 3 weeks since I have checked my iPhone, most of my friends are still users, and I find myself shaking at nights.
It’s interesting that with new technologies and new lifestyles; new problems emerge that are simply part of the human condition. Addiction is not something we think of when we think of electronic devices, but with the smartphone become ubiquitous in our culture, it seems that there could be disadvantages to having the world at your fingertips.
According to Juniper Research, an estimated 302 million smartphones were sold in 2010. By 2016, that number is expected to reach 1 billion.
Why so common?
When you think about it, it’s amazing how inexpensive cellular devices have gotten over the past decade. Remember when you knew someone who had a car phone, and you just assumed they were loaded because they drove a nice car, had a nice office, and pretty much worked 60+
hours a week?
Fast forward to 2011:
At most retails stores like Wal-Mart or BestBuy, you can get a phone for as little as 10 bucks, with no contracts, forms to sign, or any red tape. If you can buy a phone card (to add minutes) and you have a measley10 bucks for the phone, then you are good to go. The 10 dollars even
includes the car adapter, earpiece, and a clip-on case for your belt!
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why cell phones have transitioned from luxury to utility. It appears that smartphones are going in that same direction.
Researchers from the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing recently examined the “checking habits” which are described as the need to check for messages or to check up on
various applications like social networks. The study found that the typical check lasts less than 30 seconds and involves opening the screen lock and accessing one application.
The subjects in the study checked their phones 34 times a day, primarily out of habit or compulsion, and rarely out of need.
The concern with excessive smartphone usage is regarding a habitual response to boredom. Back in the day, we picked up a book, engaged in conversation, or did some writing in our spare time. Now, spare time becomes playing Angry Birds, checking email, putting in a status update on your Facebook page, or texting. What starts as checks here and there becomes something
more of a need. “The more connected we are the less we are connecting,” addiction specialist Dr. Michael Dow told CBS News. He goes on to say that too much smartphone usage can detach people from reality and lead to physical withdrawal symptoms like insomnia or anxiety. He explains that “it actually creates a lot of cortisone in the brain and in the body, that stress
hormone is actually cardio toxic.” The point here is that it can affect both your mental health and your biological health in dangerous ways.
As smartphones are becoming more and more a part of our lives, remember, like any gadget, it needs to be treated as such: a piece of machinery that aids in our daily life. The moment when it becomes our daily life is when we should rethink our routine.
When in doubt, keep in mind that moderation is key. Yes your phone is smart, but hopefully you are smarter.