Is Our Relationship With Our Smartphones Healthy Or Toxic?

Is Our Relationship With Our Smartphones Healthy Or Toxic?

Articles like this are dichotomous — especially for a website like Chip-Monks, whose reason for existence is devices, of which smartphones form the bedrock — however we have always questioned the incessant use of devices, as human kind seems to get more and more artificially-stimulated with each passing app.

Content seems to override real-world stimuli, Google Search replaces books, and skimming article headlines have replaced actual reading. Knowledge then, is limited to 140 characters.

But we aren’t bucking a trend here, just to be sensational. There is a genuine reason for pause, and contemplation.

Smartphones in today’s information-superhighway world have become more of a necessity than a luxury. Everyone’s dependent on their devices to get updates, carry out professional tasks, stay in touch with near and dear ones.

As we feel enriched by more connectedness, and swallow more content than we ever used to, one question we find ricocheting in people’s minds (usually those of parents) is — whether this incessant use of smartphones a healthy phenomena or not?

Well… the world is undoubtedly a smaller place, events create ripples internationally and people are significantly more aware and verbal. But there are psychological repercussions too.

Let me try and be more elucidatory, so we’re on the same page.

Several psychiatrists have been trying to establish what exactly it is that keeps us glued to our smartphones almost 24x7. One of the foremost in the field is Dr. David Greenfield, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, and founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction.

“A mobile device is a portable dopamine pump”, observed Dr. David Greenfield. “Dopamine is a pleasure neurotransmitter in the mesolimbic reward circuitry of the brain, which is a primitive, old part of the brain”.

Internet addiction is not a new phenomena, and as Dr. Greenfield rightly stated, “Internet addiction is not a new thing, but we’re now seeing more people become addicted to different forms of content, like social media, or fan fiction, or online shopping, not to mention gambling, gaming and sex.”

And it’s not just limited to knowledge and social interactions. There’s some money to be lost too.

Dr. Greenfield further sheds light on online shopping — “Amazon is a perfect example. There’s very little threshold to cross before you click and buy something. It’s almost instantaneously rewarding. When you purchase something you get a hit (of dopamine) and you get a secondary hit once you receive it”.

Now you know why Amazon and others work so hard to create one-click-buy solutions — so you don’t really get a moment to stop and reconsider. They spend millions of dollars perfecting this gateway-to-heaven approach, and have you smitten with their ease-of-use story.

There’s more cause for concern.

Non-stop usage of smartphones can ruin your relationships with your partners, family members and colleagues. Now relationships, for example, might turn toxic due to phone-snubbing — the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention to them, negatively influences your relationships.

A friend of mine once confided in me that immersing himself with his smartphone often helps him escape awkward situations. But this is no consolation for the long term damage it causes to our interpersonal relationships. My friend only got to see the other side of the equation when the tables were turned on him.

Not only are conversations a forgotten art, even those that do happen, revolve around updates, posts and photos on Facebook, birthdays and greetings are now Facebook posts instead of cards or personal calls, and suddenly online games are suddenly more fun than time with friends at an arcade or around a pool table.

And then there is the hunger for instant appreciation. Peoples’ lives have begun to revolve around the number of Likes and Shares that their social posts receive, and others’ measure of themselves is weighed by the number of birthday wishes they received online. The worst part of all of this, how, unconsciously, we’ve handed over the reins of our emotions to others; and become susceptible to the most ephemeral of slights.

Most of us must have seen a series of memes that are regularly posted on social media about how long we have to wait to get replies to our texts. Funny as it is in memes, however in reality, it’s not a joke. It pertains to another trait that has crept into our personalities (and how we view ourselves) due to our regular and constant use of smartphones — we expect one another to be available almost immediately and when we fail to receive a (timely) reply, this causes us an insurmountable amount of anxiety, stress and in some instances, even depression.

And, with the advent of online dating, we don’t even go out and to meet new people — since we can now meet them with the help of a mouse-click; is there a worse proof of our deteriorating relationships and communication skills?

Solution?

Well, meditation, reportedly seems to be an efficient way to develop your strength when you are all by yourself. Try it — you should at least be able to talk with yourself occasionally — and meditation is the best way of speaking to yourself!

There’s another solution, a far easier one. Put your phone away. Consciously make the effort — the best way to do that is to leave your phone in the other room.

It would be unwise and irrational to suggest that one completely abstain from the use of smartphones, because let’s face it, smartphones (or their replacements) will exist everywhere. However, you do need regulate to and control your use of these smart phones (and tablets).

Be brave! Look up, talk, listen and share, in the real world!


Originally published at Chip-Monks.