In the recent past individuals across the globe are increasingly becoming dependent on their smartphones (Akhtar, 2011). However, majority would never agree that they are actually addicted to their smartphones. Such exists despite the prevailing reality that Smartphone addiction is real and is quickly becoming a major problem, which is affecting majority of individuals around the world. Recent statistics indicate that one in every ten users of smartphones have admitted to having used their smartphones during conversations, shower or when attending important meetings (Akhtar, 2011). These statistics have also shown that some people often fail to control their habits of using smartphones when engaging in life threatening activities such as driving (Allen, Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 2007).
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Statistics indicate that Smartphone addicts, either are married or are courting, one partner is more likely to carry his or her smartphone to the bedroom. The problem is made worse by the fact that such individuals have a tendency of using their Smartphone during intimate moments. Thus, the other partner eventually gets negatively affected in the processes as far as emotions are concerned. In this respect, such an individual does not understand about his or her partner’s Smartphone addictive problem as the existence of problem has not yet been fully embraced or accepted by the society. Most individuals mainly associate addictive problems with drugs or other stimulants but tend to ignore sources of entertainment such as technological devices that are mainly used for communication, playing games, or even accessing music or videos.
Nevertheless, the habit of overusing smartphones is such a manner has been proved to be the main reason why many users find it challenging to function well without having their smartphones by their side. According to recent survey including research studies aimed at establishing the degree of smart phone addiction, more than 72% respondents indicated that they rarely place their phones five feet from where they are positioned at any given time; either during the day or at night sociologists and psychologists term this condition as nomophobia. Nomophobia, is essentially an abbreviation that means that ‘no mobile phobia. It is fear experienced by individuals when they are too far from their phones. The fear stems from the fact that individuals feel that they are disconnected from the rest of the world. Today, all popular news platforms offer consumers with an easy way of accessing current affairs as they happen. Despite of geographic locations, one is able to access or even make contributions regarding important issues. Moreover, a Smartphone enables an individual to engage in discussions by making personal contributions or even share information with the rest of the world, at the palm of their hands.
Today, several mobile providers are increasingly heightening the level of existing competition in this highly demanding business environment. As such, technological advancement in various devices and connectivity allows them to improve several elements of their services or products such as internet speed. As a result, access towards internet is basically achieved by many people due to reduced prices in a tough yet highly profitable mobile industry. Thus, internet coupled with its innovations has made significant contributions as far as Smartphone addiction is concerned.
Very interestingly, the aspect or situations where individuals find that they lack any phone connection, is well thought-out as social in nature by sociologists or psychologists. However, today, individuals who lack smartphone regard themselves as having lacking any social life. The main reason being, that owning a phone naturally connects an individual to friends, family and the rest of the world. In other words, psychologists suggest that it is more important finding out what is happening to people who are close by actually demonstrating love and care. Such claims may be demonstrated by being physically present rather than by way of texting or calling through a phone. As such, lacking a phone occasionally is an essential human activity that has the tendency of improving people’s social skills.
Smartphones have become a crucial part of individuals due to the functions that perfumed through their phones (Allen et al., 2007). This is mainly because Smartphone offers individuals with the ability of connecting with families, loved ones and friends. In addition, one is able to access news easily and much faster without having to hustle much (Plant & Plant, 2008). Entertainment is one major source of addiction, particularly to the younger individuals who spend long hours during each day playing games or watching movies through their smartphones whenever they may be. This technological gadget is small and hence, portable, making it possible for individuals to carry it everywhere (Allen et al., 2007). Today, major news outlets such as CNN, have established their websites, which can accessed by anybody with just a click of the button. This includes entertainment websites such as Number Direct that easily lets individuals view and access content just by tapping their touch screen (Roy, 1999). Essentially, smartphones have become critical aspects of peoples’ everyday lives.
Online Compulsions that drives Smartphone addicted individuals to engage in gambling, gaming, bidding in auction sites, online shopping, stock trading frequently lead to job related issues or financial problems (Akhtar, 2011). Addictive problems such as gambling have been documented for several years and this problem has been heightened by internet accessibility into various gambling sites. Online shopping or stock trading has been seen to result in social and financial problems by various research studies (Akhtar, 2011).
Information overload often leads to lower productivity at various aspects of an individual life such as school or work (Akhtar, 2011). Compulsive behavior of playing games, web surfing, checking news feeds, watching videos or searching Google makes individuals to isolate themselves from other people for many hours. Compulsive use of Smartphone Apps including the internet cause addicts to neglect important aspects of their lives such as work, school or families (Roberts, 2016). In addition, such individuals often find themselves isolated from their social pursuits, real-world relationships as well as from their hobbies.
Cybersex addiction is directly related to Smartphone addiction whereby individuals use adult chat rooms, pornography, nude swapping or messaging services, including compulsive behavior of sexting (Roberts, 2016). These online or internet related activities carry a negative impact towards an individual’s overall emotional health as well as their real-life intimidate relationships. While sexual addiction includes cybersex and pornography addictions, such, are made more accessible by availability of internet. These addictions have been made to be very convenient in addition to the fact that they are relatively anonymous (Roberts, 2016). Today, sex addicts find it easy to spend many private hours using their tablets or Smartphones, where, they engage in fantasies, which have been proven to be impossible in real life. Moreover, Smartphones essentially enhances casual sex where victims engage in excessive use of dating apps and use of sex (Roberts, 2016). Consequently, such individuals find it challenging to establish any long-term intimate relationship or may even end an existing relationship.
Traditionally, such impulses were experienced through availability of desktop computers or a laptop. However, today, Smartphones have made it more convenient due to their size as individuals are able to carry them anywhere so that they can gratify their addictions or compulsions (Roberts, 2016). Most people have admittedly confirmed that they have used their Smartphones either during religious services, in theaters, in the shower, during business meetings, while driving, during sex or even during their children’s performances in school.
The internet, Smartphones or tablets are normally addictive due to the fact that their specific use is capable of triggering the human brain to release chemical dopamine (Roberts, 2016). The release of chemical dopamine has the same ending effects like those that often results from other addictions such as alcohol and drugs addiction. An individual’s mood is frequently altered as addiction to Smartphones results in an overall impact to the brain (Roberts, 2016). Moreover, Smartphone addicts are able to develop tolerance just like in other drug addictions, whereby, individuals spend longer hours on their screens so as to derive the same pleasurable rewards.
A research study carried in the United Kingdom established that Smartphone addiction enhances self-absorption (Roberts, 2016). In this regard, individuals who tend to spend longer hours in social media sites have an increased chance of displaying negative personality traits for example, they are often narcissists (Roberts, 2016). Smartphone addicts frequently snap endless selfies, which are posted in social media sites, accompanied with particular details regarding their personal lives. As a result, they become excessively self-centered, which is unhealthy. Smartphone addicts tend to make it particularly challenging to cope with personal stress because they often distance themselves from real-life relationships (Roberts, 2016).
DSM criteria for Substance use Disorders
Smartphone addiction is causing many other social problems such as isolating the victims from their families, loved ones or friends (Schaefer, 2008). This is due to the fact that smartphone addicts spend longer hours with their smartphones as compared to being physically present to assist or improve their social skills that exists naturally with human beings. As opposed to this healthy social skills, smartphone addict prefer communicating to people who are close to them through texting, video or voice calls (Einhorn & Borgions, 2015). This means that eventually, they get isolated from the physical environment and totally rely on the functions provided by their smartphones (Rozman & Korea Economic Institute (U.S.), 2015). This proves why more than seventy percent participants during a recent survey indicated that they are rarely five feet away from their phones. Meaning, that such individuals use their smartphones during majority of their daily time or schedules are higher (Duck, 2007).
Therefore, it is plausible to state that human beings have the ability of abusing anything; smartphones notwithstanding (Galstian, 2014). While the world is busy dealing with drug abuse among young people, smartphone addition is quickly but silently encroaching the social aspects of human life. Currently, the most popular culture is one that is seen to be tech hungry and tech savvy (Fazlagić & Erkol, 2016). The more any culture is seen to be tech savvy, the more it is seen to be capable of performing highly complex tasks easily. From a global perspective, many states are dealing with drug addiction problems by way of establishing regulatory policies such as ‘no smoking zones’ (Czarnowski, Howlett & Jain, 2017). The problems and challenges brought about by smartphone addiction are gaining momentum each day and in fact; many institutions have already started establishing mobile related signs such as ‘This is a mobile free zone’ or ‘Do not use your phone’ (Frank, 2013).
Contributing Factors to Smartphone Addiction
While that is not enough, important relationships such as those that are family based are increasingly affected by the prevailing condition of smartphone addiction (Benyoucef et al., 2015). Typically, families used to interact more effectively during private settings such as at their dinner tables. This tradition or culture where all family members used to meet and interact physically is hampered by smartphone addiction (Wei, 2007). In this regard, certain family members frequently keep checking their smartphones mainly for updates, emails, texts as well as tweets. Such negative norms have been widely accepted and have also generated conflicts within some families (Benyoucef et al., 2015).
As if that was not enough, leisure activities such as going to the movies or theaters are always interrupted by an individual(s) who is oblivious of his or her addiction problem and thus, keep multi-tasking while at the same time watching movies (Roberts, 2016). While in the past, individuals used to excuse themselves to go to the washrooms, today such a habit has become obsolete. As almost every person is accepting the habit of smartphone use during such events or undertakings. More important to note is the fact that relationships are getting impacted by this prevailing problem as many couples are increasingly getting separated (Bridgman & Streeter, 2000).
Statistics in Smartphone Addiction
A very recent research study released their findings, which suggested that one in every ten individuals who are in a relationship, have a tendency of using their phone while engaging in an intimate moment with their partners (Chen, Kumar, Kinshuk, Huang, & Kong, 2015). The problem is worsened in younger people aged between eighteen and thirty four years, in which case, one in every five individuals use their phone during intimate moments with their partner (Nour, D., Freeway Guides, Inc, Playaway Digital Audio, Findaway World, & LLC, 2008). However, it is important to understand that there are other sensitive human lives, which are increasingly affected by smartphone intrusion and they may include; sacred or private moments (Nutt & Nestor, 2014).
A recent survey conducted by Mobile Consumer habits indicated that 12% of smartphone users carry and use their smartphones during shower. Conducted in 2013, this worrying statistics have doubled due to technological advancements as well as the prestige that is obtained from using mobile devices that are more advanced in the market. Today, statistics indicate that slightly above 50% of smartphone addicts, use their smartphones while driving. Compulsive Smartphone use adds towards the number of accident incidences experienced each year (Chen et al., 2015). More importantly to note is the fact that using smartphones for functions such as texting while driving, is six times more dangerous as compared to driving while drunk (Nakaya, 2017).
Comparison with other Addictions
One can relate such development by other common addictive problems such as cigarette smoking (Gifford, 2013). Cigarette smoking has encountered higher hostility from the health related groups or the public. Such hostilities were initiated by development of smoke-free zones, which were popping up in many public settings such as restaurants, hospitals, fuel stations as ell as during flights (Chang & Li, 2015). The free zone culture began spreading to many other sectors or settings, forcing smoke addicts to look up for such signs in an effort of avoiding fines or other types of legal issues. Smartphone addiction is similar to other types of addictions such as smoking, however, the magnitude of its impacts is extensive as compared to other addictions (Guerin, 2017).
Smartphone addicts have a tendency of using their smartphones while someone important is physically communicating to them (Hanley, Christensen, Darcey, Ramkumar, Strahan & Torbit, 2009). The prevalence rate is higher among young people or adolescence who are ever texting while their parents are communicating to them. Therefore, it is for this reason that several establishments such as schools have set up “No Cell Phone Use” (Haugen & Musser, 2013). In fact, this developing culture is quite common in many establishments, meaning that there is high likelihood that people have begun identifying smartphone addiction problems and the ensuing impacts.
Comparison and Critique of Reported Characteristics of Smartphone use Addiction
In this age, there are essentially four reasons that individuals provide for their state of disconnection; either, the individual’s smartphone has low battery, forgot his or her phone, lack of minutes or the worst of it is losing a device. Such claims explain the development of nomophobia, which is increasingly engulfing majority of smartphone users. Such a problem does not only exist in the United States but also in other countries around the globe. A more recent research study conducted by Versapak in Britain, indicated that 41% of smartphone users often got anxious coupled by a feeling of not being in control whenever they are separated from their tablets or smartphones. Additionally, about fifty one percent of respondents during the survey admitted that they frequently suffered from extreme technological anxiety many times a day.
Therefore, this argument essentially means that separating smartphone users from their phones is an extremely nerve-wracking feeling, which often affects a person’s state of wellbeing. Being disconnected from technology is surprisingly stressful. There’s often a feeling of missing out, as we worry about what’s going on without our knowledge. Based to another study undertook by yet another research company, seventy percent of females have phone separation anxiety as opposed to sixty one percent of males. Therefore, there is an existing doubt that individuals are going to see this phobia in the DSM anytime soon, however the anxiety associated on smartphones use or lack thereof, has been established to be very real. Individuals tend to make an allowance for using their smartphone as opposed to creating tie for their best are friends or even their soul mate. So the loss of one’s smartphone can be associated or linked to losing a best friend.
In addition, many individuals have developed anxiety issues from their smartphone addiction. The anxiety is developed by fear that they might lose their smartphones in any given time even for few seconds. In this regard, it is imperative to note that today, many relationships are developed and maintained through smartphone use. Such relationships are also ended by a sending a text message or images to the receiver. Furthermore, important institutions such as in finance, have developed their websites, which allow their consumers or potential customers easily access their services. Thus, one is able to do personal transactions using smartphones, which also, retain important financial information of smartphone users. Individuals are able to conduct all these important functions or duties right from the palm of their hands, irrespective of their location or geographical positions.
Although smartphone addition has proven to be an enormous problem, there are clear indications that such problems are more likely to increase at a fast rate. This is as demonstrated by the increased demand coupled with easy access to smartphones. Moreover, the situation is heightened by the rapid advances in technology that focuses on making smartphones perform wide variety of functions at a fast speed. This becomes a big relief particularly in the modern world that is characterized by individuals who are multitasking many activities in their daily living such as school, career, family and personal matters. In this regard, smartphones tend to relieve them the need of attending certain duties as they can easily conduct them through their smartphones at the comfort of their homes such as attending meetings or school lectures, shopping or having to visit their loved ones.
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