Smartphones: Are we in control?

Smart Phone Addiction

As we now live in a world where the majority of us have a smartphone and it often doesn’t leave our side, researchers are beginning to question what that means. Is it because the smartphone is a really useful gadget or because we’ve become emotionally attached to them?  Recently a few studies have popped up that investigate our relationship with technology, so let’s take a look and see exactly what they’ve found.

Our Time Spent

A few researchers over at the University of Derby had a look at how long subjects were spending on their device and found some pretty amazing things. Their study shows that, on average, we spend 3.6 hours a day on our devices, which is quite shocking to think that’s 22.5% of our day.

They also found that 13% of subjects tested were considered to be addicted to their smartphones. That’s one in eight people. The lead author of the study, Psychology Lecturer Dr Hussain, believes the study showed a “a significant positive relationship … between narcissism and addiction to the phones, suggesting that the more narcissistic a person is, the more likely they are to be addicted to their smartphone.”

Our Temperamental Moods

So why are we driven to spend hours upon hours on our smartphones? Whilst there are many answers to this question, researchers at Baylor University believe the key is in our moods. They found “a person who is moody and temperamental may be more likely to be addicted to their cell phone than more stable individuals.”

They believe this shows that we reach for our phones in an attempt to ‘mood repair’. For example, if we are bored we usually seek to resolve and find something to occupy us. If we are angry, we want to be happy. These findings show that as we’ve become more dependent on our phones we believe the solution to a bad mood lay in our phones – which could, in fact, be the route of these problems in the first place.

Our Dangerous Behaviour

It’s hard to think that our phones could actually cause us harm, but according to government data 22% of fatal road traffic accidents involve mobile phone related distractions. The amount of drivers being caught on their mobiles by police is also on the increase. In fact, records show that the majority of offenders (66%) are caught with their phone in their hand, rather than to their ear (33%).

These figures show a clear link between our propensity to be constantly connected to our phones and breaking the law. Commenting on this, MP Robert Goodwill highlighted to the authorities that “the problem isn’t just drivers making phone calls; it is their use of phones to text or use the internet.”

Our Withdrawal Symptoms

So, what happens when we put our phones down and try to ignore them? Well the University of Missouri found that we experience an elevated heart rate, our blood pressure rises and we even show symptoms of anxiety.

However, the most surprising finding was that those who were separated from their smartphones experienced diminished cognitive skills, which is a tell-tale sign of addiction. According to Russell Clayton, the lead author of the study, his research shows “that iPhones are capable of becoming an extension of ourselves.”

The Way Out

If you think that your smartphone use is getting a little out of hand it may be time for you to take action. There are a variety of simple steps that you can take to reduce the amount of time you spend on your smartphone almost overnight, and three of them are below:

  1. Turn notifications off
    Apps have a funny way of taunting you back to them by sending you little messages, screaming ‘use me’ (aka notifications), but you shouldn’t let them be in control. By turning them off you put the power back in your hands, letting you decide when and what you want to use.
  1. Put it on silent
    As soon as we hear a little beep or a ring from our phones, we go running to them. Now it’s understandable if you’re waiting for an important call, but if not you shouldn’t let your phone interrupt your daily life. Put it on silent, and look at it when you want to.
  1. Leave it at home
    We rarely leave our phones at home, but we’ve survived hundreds of years without them so why not take a little break? Whether you’re going out for the day or just nipping to the gym, allow yourself a little time alone.

Now there are some setbacks to being on your phone all the time, but let’s not demonize them altogether. Smartphones are wonderful inventions and they allow us to do things that we couldn’t have imagined 100 years ago. The key, however, is to use them to better your life, and not to live your life through them.

Guest Post

Joseph Hill - Photo 2015This is a guest post by Joseph Hill.

Joseph has an avid interest in social media, business and technology. Focusing on research and statistics, he enjoys writing about new developments and how they may impact society.

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  • Erica

    I totally believe that our smartphones can cause us harm. The simple fact that we are so attached to our devices can cause us to go through withdraw like symptoms when we are away from our phones.

  • Sara