If we are asked to go a day without our smart-phones, do you think we could do it easily? Perhaps No! Researchers who have asked participants to go without their mobile phones for a certain period of time have found that breaking the technology habit, even for a relatively short interval, can be exceedingly difficult (Cherry, 2020). Our handsets which were once used to make and receive calls and to send and receive Short Message Service have advanced to such an extent that we could possibly engage most of our important day-to-day activities through it. The device has been able to control placing orders from food items to medicines, to using it as a medium for all bank transactions to watching shows and news updates. The list of activities is enormous and it has ideally made life easy for people from across sections of society.
People use their phones for a variety of purposes, from conducting business calls to checking their emails and others. The use of mobile phones has witnessed maximum usage especially from 2020 onwards when students used it as a medium to attend classes and to take down important instructions from their educational institutions. Besides being used as an important media vehicle for communication purposes – both personal and professional, it has now been used widely as a means for entertainment. Our phones have become an inextricable part of our lives. But does this reliance on smart-phones have any impact on us?
Experts suggest that excessive use of mobile phones can have an impact on children’s social and emotional development. It can impair sleep patterns, and might even turn some people into lazy thinkers. Recent research suggests that smart-phones usage does indeed have an effect on the brain, although the long-term effects remain to be seen. In one of the studies presented to the Radiological Society of North America (2017), researchers found that young people with a so-called internet and smart-phones addiction actually demonstrated imbalances in brain chemistry compared to a control group in that particular research. The use of electronic gadgets to entertain or pacify children by their parents and family members, they warn, might have a detrimental effect on the children’s social and emotional development.
Hands-on activities and those involving direct human interaction are superior to interactive screen games, the experts further suggest. The use of mobile devices becomes especially problematic when such devices replace hands-on activities that help develop visual-motor and sensory-motor skills. Using smart-phones or tablets at bedtime might be interfering with sleep. This is because the type of light emitted from the mobile device screen might just be messing up the sleep cycle, even after one turns off the handset. The researchers discovered that those who had read on an iPad before bedtime displayed a reduction in levels of melatonin – a hormone that increases throughout the evening and induces sleepiness. The study also reveals that the said participants took time to fall asleep, and they experienced less Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep throughout the night. The reason for such occurrences is the type of blue light emitted by most mobile devices. The cells at the back of the eyes contain a light-sensitive protein that picks up certain wavelengths of light. These light-sensitive cells then send signals to the brain’s “clock” that regulates the body’s circadian rhythms.
A prosperous society needs happy citizens. Modern technologies such as cell phones, satellites and the internet create an easy life, too. But, extensive use of these technologies may generate some social and health problems. Television can damage the eye-sight, in the same way as cell phone waves may cause some health problems. These hassles leading to stop in the progress of a community should be made known and should be addressed. Recognition of the multidirectional effects of these technologies will bring proper guidance for implementation.
Aggression is described as a set of abnormal behaviours which sometimes hurts others. It may happen in the form of literal, physical, or offensive behaviour to the other’s rights. According to the findings of a research entitled “Correlation between aggression and cell phone application in Iran” (2012), it highlighted that the more we use the cell phone, the more we face physiologic aggression, anger, and hate. Technology is to make our lives more comfortable and convenient. However, the damages are more than the benefits resulting in irrecoverable impacts. We need to control the use of technology for a more satisfactory and comfortable experience of life.
An elaborate study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2019) showcases that ego-resilience is a mediator between smart-phones dependency and aggression. These findings suggest that the development of ‘ego resilience is important for reducing the side effects of smart-phones overuse among both adolescents and young adults. As such, adolescent aggression can be prevented through education designed to increase ego-resilience. Higher levels of both family and peer support also increase ego-resilience and positive self-concepts among adolescents.
Loneliness is rising and may overtake obesity. The older generations aren’t the only ones affected. Even teenagers are physically interacting less with each other. The relationship between smartphones usage and loneliness has started to amass a significant amount of research. One 2015 study from the Social Science Computer Review found a correlation between smart-phones usage and loneliness in college students. Another 2017 study from the Korean Society of Nursing Science found a significant correlation between attachment anxiety, loneliness, depression and smart-phones addiction. This link is perhaps most obvious when looking at smart-phones usage in teenagers. The group born between 1995 and 2012, a group she dubbed iGen, is markedly different from previous generations due to the increase in smart-phones and social media.
According to an article in The Atlantic by San Diego State University, psychology professor Jean Twenge stated that, as smart-phones usage became more ubiquitous, a rapid, strong change in teenage behaviour occurred. Physically, teenagers are now safer, as they tend to stay in their rooms and avoid parties and drinking. However, the rates of teenage depression and suicide have significantly increased since 2011. Teenagers spending three or more hours per day on electronics have a 35 per cent higher chance of a suicide risk factor, and eighth-graders using social media frequently have a 27 per cent higher risk of depression. Cacioppo (University of Chicago’s Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience), further stated that loneliness is bad for mental and physical health. Chronic loneliness can contribute to depression, and a meta-analysis of 3 million people revealed that loneliness upped the odds of dying early by 26 per cent through several related mechanisms such as higher blood pressure, higher levels of cortisol, less sleep and altered gene expression.
Smartphone addiction could impair our brain’s ability to retain new information and form new memories. Psychologists have maintained for long that stress can cause amnesia or affect the memory adversely. But that is not the only reason. Excessive use of mobile phones, apparently, can cause memory loss in humans. When cyber security company Kaspersky Lab conducted a survey of 6,000 mobile phone users, it found that 71 per cent of them can’t remember the phone numbers of their children and 87 per cent can’t recollect the phone numbers of their children’s schools. According to some of the respondents, losing their smart-phones will cause them to forget what they’ve been up to. The era of ‘digital amnesia’ is when our brains are fast losing their ability to remember as we become increasingly reliant on technology to retain data.
Distraction is one of the key factors that make memories more difficult to form. When we are busy multitasking on our smart-phones and quickly looking for information in multiple apps and notifications, we are only half-focused on learning a new skill. Hence, the information is unlikely to get stored in our long-term memory.
We have become slaves to technology and unfortunately, it is getting worse with each passing day. Though we are familiar with the fact that long engagement with electronic gadgets is not healthy, yet, we tend to ignore and avoid knowing its consequences, whether it is about the bad effects on our posture, eyesight or being forgetful. Let us pause awhile to introspect – can life still continue normally without our ‘mobile phones’?
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