Undoubtedly, smartphones have become integrated into our everyday lives. About 72% of American people own a smartphone. Despite the benefits of using a smartphone, their use has some adverse effects on one's mental health. Here are some of the ways smartphone use can affect your mental health.
1. Negative Feedback Loop
Smartphones have an addictive quality, thus gaining entry into the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Cell phone addiction manifests in one of the following ways; loss of interest in activities, anxiety when you cannot send or receive messages, and irritability when one is away from your phone.
2. Fear of Missing Out
A study in 2016 about the effect of computers on human behavior showed a connection between anxiety symptoms and problematic smartphone use. During the study, a questionnaire was conducted among 143 women and 165 men. The questionnaire sought the relationship between the mental health of the individuals and their cell phone use.
The majority of those who scored high on the fear of missing out tend to overuse their phones. Similarly, these individuals score high on anxiety and depression scales. That is because excessive use of smartphones interferes with social activities and therefore increases depression.
3. Reduced Attention and Productivity
Whether at work or school, too much use of smartphones lowers the attention span of individuals. Experiments on 'Does my phone affect my mental health?' indicated that individuals were distracted during a phone call or when receiving notifications from the smartphone. Other studies revealed that these individuals with heavy social media use had a minor grey matter in their brains. This grey area is responsible for attention control.
A study among teenagers on 'Do cell phones cause anxiety and depression?' revealed that smartphones contributed to increased depression rates. This study showed that teenagers who were constantly on their phones were less happy than those who took part in non-screen activities.
5. Contributes to Relationship Stress
People are always on their phones to connect to their loved ones who are far away. However, smartphones can have the opposite effect. For instance, when using a phone during family dinner time or on a date with your partner, the phone will take away your attention from your loved ones and hence cause a strain on the relationship.
6. Chasing Dopamine
Addiction to anything depends on brain chemicals, and dopamine is usually the neurotransmitter responsible. Dopamine is a neurochemical messenger and carries signals that are responsible for reward-seeking. The neuroplastic change from the process is what causes the addiction to happen. Every time a notification comes from the phone, the brain releases dopamine.
The more this happens, your brain releases dopamine even before the notification. The prior release of dopamine creates the need to check your phone for the same brain response. With time, you will be spending more time on your phone and not on other essential activities.
7. Sleep Disturbances
Disrupted sleep is caused by many factors, including the frequent use of the phone, especially at night. Excessive use of a phone at night is harmful to your brain. That is because smartphone screens emit blue light. This light mimics the sun's brightness and thus confuses the brain.
Smartphone use can cause anxiety in individuals in different ways. One, some individuals experience anxiety when they are away from their phones. For other individuals, stress is even exhibited as withdrawal-like symptoms. The overuse of smartphones creates a psychological dependency, and separation from the device will create anxiety.
Although smartphone use is key to everyday life activities, it is clear that excessive use of smartphones is likely to cause mental health problems. Therefore, you are likely to lead a low-quality life due to mental health issues.
If you or your loved one is experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, contact Butler Hospital for professional help. Our mental health experts at the facility will help diagnose and treat mental health issues before they escalate.