Mobile phones currently can boast of great versatility. Part of its appeal stems from the wide possibilities it offers for work, leisure, social life or daily information. And it is these functions that have turned them into tools that are essential day to day for many people.
But some people have to change their relationship with their phone, because in many cases they are not able to maintain healthy habits regarding it.
how to recognize addiction
According to an article by the European Institute of Health and Social Welfare, this problem can be identified by following a series of habits or vital actions. Among these are:
1. Always use it as a remedy for boredom or loneliness.
2. Waking up at night to check the device.
3. Feeling uneasiness, irritation or anxiety when it cannot be used.
4. Being a victim of injury or accident due to distraction.
5. Daily mobile usage is increasing.
6. A decline in school, work, or social performance.
7. There is a perception from the person’s circle that it is of excessive use.
8. Attempt to reduce its use leads to rapid and frequent relapse.
What are the consequences of being addicted?
The Mobile in Spain and the World 2020 report indicated that 7.6 million Spaniards say they are “addicted to their mobile device”. This was about 6.24% of the total population of the country. And the fact that not all of the Spanish population has its own telephone makes this percentage even more significant. 61% of those surveyed by Detrendia say “looking at the phone is the first and last thing” they do on a daily basis. Furthermore, more than 3.7 million Spaniards have confirmed that they are not able to spend more than an hour without a consultation.
Google Trends also indicates that there has been an increase in searches on “mobile phone addiction” during the past 5 years, indicating an increase in general concern about the problem. Concepts have appeared to try to quantify the scope and impact of these addictions: nomophobia (fear of being left without a phone), textaphrenia (finding that a message has arrived when it is not the case) or ‘phantom vibration’. (False sense that the phone has issued an alert).
Continuing with the European Institute, there is currently a debate between medical and mental health experts. It revolves around whether the excessive use of mobile is actually due to an addiction, or on the contrary, it reflects a lack of control over impulses.
Similarities to Compulsive Gambling
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders states that addiction is based on a behavior. For example, in the case of gambling and betting addiction, the said problem does not involve the use of drugs in the body. Thus, mobile device excessive use and compulsive gambling share many similarities:
Loss of control over behaviour.
-The frequency of the behavior needs to increase in order to maintain the same feeling about it.
It is difficult to limit because of its extreme persistence.
-Negative consequences resulting from the abuse of said behavior: loss of productivity, money…
Anxiety or irritability when the habit is not fulfilled.
Recurrence after a period of abstinence.
Another similarity with behavioral addictions is the hyperactivity of dopamine, a chemical that acts in the brain and drives compulsive behavior. The organ can release it into the body through various routes, creating gratifying conditions.
For example, social interaction implies for many people the dopamine it gives, and mobile phones offer the interactions many people seek. When apps designed to affect this chemistry provide reward patterns based on content interactions, the tipping point may be reached. The device turns from a pleasure to a necessity, as the user becomes dependent on that pattern.
Who are the weakest?
The European Institute states there is a general agreement that adolescents are the most susceptible age group to develop this behavior. For its part, a study prepared by the National Library of Medicine of the United States, states that ‘smartphone’ use reaches its peak during adolescence, and progressively decreases after overcoming this stage.
Continuing this research, young people who get their first device are more likely to become addicted. And is that 33% of 13-year-olds said they never turn off their phone, regardless of the circumstances.
BNM points out in another investigation that several specific personality traits are also associated with ‘smartphone’ abusive use. But experts comment that it is not entirely certain whether these conditions actually make them vulnerable, or, conversely, that these symptoms develop as a result of addiction:
Lack of ability to control impulses.
– Lack of self-esteem.
-Anxiety or depression.
-Has a very outgoing character.
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