Browsing on the phone before you sleep can potentially cause serious damage to your health. According to studies the side effects can be far reaching and detrimental for your overall health. It can disrupt your sleep and contributes to several complications like heart diseases, obesity, etc.
Following are the bad effects of browsing on the phone before bed:
Browsing on the phone till late in the night affects your sleeping pattern and deprives your body from the rest it requires. Loss and lack of sleep significantly contributes to various health problems like poor sleep, depression, stroke, cardiovascular problems, obesity etc.
Staring at a bright screen for a long time before sleeping can slow down the activity of neurons that make you sleepy, thereby, keeping you in a state of wakefulness. Staring at artificial lights suppresses melatonin, the sleep hormone, which affects the sleep wake cycle of your body.
Browsing on the phone before sleep also takes a toll on your eyes. It can cause serious damage to your eyes if you make a habit out of it. You can see visible signs if you wake up with dark circles in the morning and feel tired and lousy. Looking at brightly lit screen for a long time especially in the dark puts a lot of strain in your eyes and also affects mental health.
Browsing on the phone till late in the night will make it difficult for you to wake up on time. The light on your cell phone affects your sleep, which can even trigger insomnia. Lack of sleep affects your alertness and concentration level and makes you feel drowsy and exhausted.
Is there anybody you know who uses internet excessively in a day, like for playing video games, visiting porn sites, for online shopping, using Facebook or visiting different chatting sites again and again? Is his or her excessive internet usage interfering with daily life, interpersonal relationships, work, school, etc.? If the answer is yes, then maybe he or she is suffering from internet addiction.
Internet addiction is a growing social issue which is being debated worldwide. Internet has become an inseparable part of our daily living. Problematic use of internet can lead us to various mental and physical problems. Surveys in the United States and Europe have indicated alarming prevalence rates between 1.5 and 8.2 percentage respectively.There are some criteria to classify and diagnose internet addiction disorder.
The following 5 criteria are required to diagnose internet addiction:
The individual remains preoccupied with the internet (thinks about previous online activity or anticipate next online session)
Needs to use internet with increased amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction.
Has made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop internet use.
Is restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop internet use.
Has stayed online longer than originally intended.
Additionally, at least one of the following must be present:
Risked the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the internet.
Lying to conceal the extent of involvement with the internet.
Use internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (like; feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)
There are different models available to explain the causal factor of internet addiction disorder. A comprehensive model of the development and maintenance of internet addiction by Winkler & Dorsing which takes into account socio-cultural factors, biological vulnerabilities like genetic factors, abnormalities in neurochemical processes, psychological predispositions and specific attributes of the internet to explain excessive engagement in internet activities.
Apart from the above discussed points, there are two significant psychological issues commonly seen in this group - a strong tendency to escape from the reality is there among internet addicts. These individuals find difficulty in facing the real world , may be due to certain conflict issues which evoke stress and anxiety in them. Involvement with technology and internet becomes a way out to get rid of the discomfort. Another psychological issue is the tendency to control the environment. Humans have a tendency to get a control over everything and it is a fact that we can't control other persons and situations. Internet addicts are involved in this compulsive behaviour may be because it is easy to get a control of technology and internet than the real world which is more threatening for them.
Impact of problematic usage of internet on social relationships has become alarming nowadays. The habit of surfing the internet continuously can be destructive indirectly. Even it has been seen that people drift away to the point that he/she cannot interact with people. Constant preoccupation with internet is damaging one’s social skills. People are losing touch with their life and their self-identity.
Nowadays people don’t make efforts to establish face to face conversations, as many easy ways are available over internet, like chat messengers, email, etc. The constant effects of addiction to internet can lead an individual to such situations that involve various mental and behavioural problems like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, etc. The absence of social interaction also can lead to various physical effects on individual’s brain chemistry and the general physical health.
There have been lot of debates on which treatment modality is effective for the treatment of Internet Addiction Disorder. In many cases, multimodal treatments have been employed. It has been seen that there are lots of underlying psychological problems found in internet addicts, like anxiety, depression, etc. In such cases medications are also considered to be effective.
Apart from pharmacological interventions, different psychotherapeutic models are found to be very helpful in treating internet addiction like cognitive therapy, behaviour therapy, art therapy, family therapy, skill building training, etc. Studies have found cognitive behavioural therapy, in particular, is very effective and can bring better outcome among this group.
Cell phones have become a compulsory device for our times, as they give us access to voice and data services in almost every part of the world. Hazardous effects of cell phones are significant because they are kept on our bodies, in our pockets, or held in our hands. In a recent publication, it was seen that 56% of children between the ages of 10–13 have a smartphone. Also, it is seen that 25% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 have a smartphone. School-grade students today beg for smartphones more than even new dresses or shoes.
Effect of Using Mobile Phones on Speech and Communication
In today’s era, children using handheld devices are more likely to have delays in expressive speech. These children start talking much later than their peers. Since the cell phone does not respond back to their communication, children cannot develop a communication channel with it. Soon, they get accustomed to using signs and symbols for things rather than asking for the same. They just get used to the mechanical model of handling cell phones by following few simple steps. In human beings, speech is mastered gradually and progressively. If the child skips on the fundamentals of speech, which requires constant repetition of letters, consonants, syllables, and words, his speech tends to get delayed.
As per famous research conducted in Toronto, it was found that with every 30 minutes of screen time, the risk of delayed speech increased by 49%. Usually, infants should be able to communicate in sentences between three and four words, by the age of 2-3 years. However, those who spent the most time on handheld devices were found to struggle with communication skills. As per another popular study conducted in the UK, electronic gadgets may be blamed for 70% rise in speech problems in 6 years. Another famous study conducted in University College London found that screen time also had an impact on sleep of infants, which affected their brains.
As per the opinion of education leaders and speech specialists, many children are deprived of conversation with their family since they spend a lot of time on electronic devices. The noise and activity on a screen can distract a small child and cause a disconnect between them and their parents. Screen time is slowly replacing parent-child interactions which are critical for healthy development.
How to address this issue?
The best way to teach language to children is by interacting with them, talking with them, using different vocabulary, playing with them, being creative, and pointing things out to them. However, if you feel that owing to negligence your child already has issues with his speech and communication, then visiting a professional speech therapist and counselor can make a huge difference.
Being away or oblivious to social media is synonymous to not following the herd. Social media probably is no more the latest fad; it is the given code to take a deeper look into the present age. The rewarding fact about social networking sites is their ability to transport us to people and places millions of miles away from us. This epoch with its dictates of overproduction and maximum utilization of labor, snatches away the boon of communication.
Some of the mental health problems that you may suffer from due to a social media addiction are discussed below:
Peer Pressure- Social media use also creates the fear of missing out because you want to do what everyone else is doing. This evokes anxiety and will give rise to negative feelings and emotions, which again create mental health problems and stress and anxiety disorders
Fatigue and Stress- When you are using social media, you are constantly switching from one task to another because there is just so much to do and see. This information abundance can tire out your brain, especially when it is received chaotically. Your brain needs time and room for absorbing the data and processing the information, but multitasking on social media makes your brain work overtime. This can prevent it from relaxing and it will become exhausted as it tries to deal with the barrage of information. Hence, the fatigue puts your mind under a lot of stress and you may not be able to concentrate on anything at all.
Social Anxiety- Even though the whole point of social media is to allow people to stay connected with others, it doesn’t have the same satisfaction and element associated with actual human interaction, which is a crucial human need. In fact, in some ways, it is too distant and this is not a good thing for those who become dependent on social media as it can lead to social anxiety. Those who are already suffering from this problem will find it even more difficult to indulge in face-to-face interaction. Real human interaction can become extremely scary for people as it is becoming common to hide behind your computer screens and not go out at all.
Distraction- Social media is just tailor-made for decreasing our productivity because you spend hours looking at everyone else’s life when you could be doing something else. This means that most of your time is spent on viewing photos, liking posts, and writing comments and these activities don’t really require the use of your intellectual abilities. They aren’t intellectual at all and distract you from activities that are such as reading, studying informational articles on the internet, etc. Your brain doesn’t get enough food for development and your intellectual abilities can decline in this way. Your brain will slow down and not be able to respond quickly in various situations.
Insecurity- One of the major problems with social media is that posts typically present an idealized version of what’s going on in everyone’s life. Usually, what you see isn’t actually reality because everyone has their problems and issues.
Nevertheless, you end up comparing your own life with that of others and think less of your own. If people in your newsfeed seem to be having a good time, it will make you envious and affect your mood negatively. Research has shown that widespread use of social media can demotivate people, make them aggressive and cause a decline in confidence.
So are you being adversely affected by social media? Here are some signs to look out for:
Feeling low when you see other people's images and lifestyle.
Envy of others people lives - wishing your life was like someone else's.
Finding social media as your first and only choice of activity done for enjoyment.
Not having as many face to face conversations with your relatives and friends and feeling disconnected.
Being unable to do anything without feeling you need to share it online.
The advent of smartphones has made mobile phones far more pervasive in your life. You can now remain connected with friends and family on social media for much longer, share your life events through pictures and videos, stay on track with professional information and generally remain updated about information from all around the world. However, this constant barrage of information and the over dependence on the smartphone for work and personal affairs has taken epidemic proportions where people are unable to log off. It has now been classified as a general anxiety disorder commonly known as nomophobia which is "the fear or being away from your cellphone".
Addiction and the validity of Nomophobia
While cell phone addiction is a valid disorder, the designation of nomophobia is loosely attributed to the anxiety disorders connected to not being able to use cell phones. It’s less of a phobia and more of an addiction as you cannot be without it. These can be better enumerated by the typical symptoms when not being able to use a mobile phone.
Symptoms of mobile phone addiction:
The ability to spend hours and hours on the cell phone without realizing how much time has passed by.
Forced attempts to separate from the cell phone result in more time being spent with it (akin to a drug addiction).
Incremental usages in a number of hours as you end up spending more and more hours on the phone.
Personal and professional lives being hampered due to excessive mobile phone usage.
Surfacing of withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, restlessness, anger and depression.
How mobile phone addiction affects people?
Different age groups are affected differently by mobile phone addiction; although some of the symptoms are fairly common. The effect tends to be far more severe on children and teenagers. Let’s look at how different age groups are affected by mobile phone addiction:
Children – Increasingly, younger children are carrying cellphones, especially smartphones. This tends to disrupt their lives as they get easily distracted and thus addicted to chatting with friends and connecting on social media. With children, appetite as well as mental development, is also hindered. In a study in the U.K., it was found that young children with mobile phones had less nutritional intake and thus had lesser and slower physical development than normal. It also affects their eyes. Direct exposure to blue light – like the one that comes from cellphone screens – can cause damage to the retina of the eye.
Development: Apart from the similar problems mentioned with children, the performance in school tends to suffer the most along with other developmental disabilities in the brain. The human brain is still forming till the age of 25 and many of the finer faculties that develop during the teenage years get badly affected. Holistic development like hobbies, sports, communication skills are greatly hindered.
Information overload: Teenagers also tend to be very impressionable and thus are at a risk of predation from sources all-round the internet. While aggressively watching porn, the adolescent brain is being shaped around a sexual experience that is isolating, visceral, and completely void of any love or compassion. This has the potential to lead to great problems in sexual compulsivity and sex addiction throughout the adolescent boy's life because his brain gets shaped to expect the "heroin-like" porn dopamine rush from all of his real-life sexual experiences.
Peer pressure: Teenagers seek more and more expensive phones in order to compete or to fit in with the crowd. this not only puts more financial strain on the parents but also leads to disharmony at home.
Friends! Let's stay connected: Very often parents complain that their teenager can do nothing else but sit by their mobile phone waiting for calls or text messages. They no longer communicate with family members and its not uncommon! Catching teenagers staying up till early hours of the morning texting or talking with friends. Their studies greatly suffer, hobbies no longer take priority and problems like irritability, poor concentration, bunking classes and other health issues are on alarming rise due to lack of sleep.
Emotional issues: In the era where assignments, notes, outing plans, party invites and important messages are passed on in Whatsapp groups. Getting a phone call or a text message implies an importance, ‘Somebody wants Me’!! It boosts the receivers self-esteem and self-worth. The phone also feeds the desire for attention, acceptability and satisfies a teenager’s emotional drive.
Life on Social media: Nowadays teenagers are more focussed on their Vitual lives rather than enjoying the real moments. Their Life and happiness is all about social display of every single activity and number of likes and comments on posted pictures/ status.This is particularly true for teenagers who are struggling with their identity and social status. Phone usage does not only increase the opportunity to bond with friends and to organise a social life on the move, it also provides a symbol for acceptance. This is important to a teenager’s individuality and confidence. The mobile phone feeds the personal requirements of a teenager - they provide a sense of worth ensuring popularity.
Strained relation with parents: A great number of teens do not let anyone touch their phones. Most teenagers turn rebellious and aggressive when parents try to limit their mobile usage. When they lose their phones, they show signs of aggression which results in constant mood swings, feeling of unhappiness, and irritation on little things.
Adults – Adults, in general, tend to suffer more from disruptions at work as well as problems in their personal lives. Shortening of attention spans, irritable behavior, fatigue, inability to communicate, breakdowns in spousal relationships or even with friends and family are fairly common consequences. However, the biggest concern is the contribution to depression and anxiety which may run into non-mobile phone related extensive disorders as well.
Communication Gap in Marriage: Believe it or not, smartphones are damaging and even ending relationships. If you are emotionally attached to your smartphone and rely on it every waking minute, it may be harming your relationship.
Psychologists claim that increasing numbers of people in long-term partnerships are having to compete with their partner’s smartphone for attention, making it the ‘third wheel’ in their relationship. A survey found that almost three quarters of women in committed relationships feel that smartphones are interfering with their love life and are reducing the amount of time they spend with their partner. Spouses spend more time in social networkings like Whatsapp, Facebook and days passby without talking to each other. Do you really remember your spouse's phone number or have you just saved it in your iPhone?
Impact on Child Bearing: Parents stay so busy with their mobiles that they don't spend quality time with their children and fill in the Lacunae by splurging on costly gifts and give them tablets/TV for passing kissing their spare time.
Mobile Use During Driving And Safety Hazards
There is considerable concern that using a mobile phone while driving creates a significant accident risk, to the user and to other people on the road, because it distracts the driver, impairs their control of the vehicle and reduces their awareness of what is happening on the road around them. When using a hand-held mobile phone, drivers must remove one hand from the steering wheel to hold and operate the phone. They must also take their eyes off the road, at least momentarily, to pick up and put down the phone and to dial numbers.While using a hand-held phone, the driver must continue to simultaneously operate the vehicle (steer, change gear, use indicators, etc) with only one hand.
Some tips for de-addiction
Some easy tips that you can follow to start your de–addiction process are mentioned below –
Ensure that the first 30 minutes of the day after waking up are only for you. Don’t be tempted to look at the phone immediately after you wake up.
Create specific no phone time zones in a day where no matter how big the urge is, you don’t check your phone. These could be during any time of the day and try incrementally stretching the amount of time that you can be without your phone each time.
Use driving as an excuse to turn off your phone. This not only helps in fighting addiction but also lowers the chances of automobile accidents caused due to distracted driving.
Keep a cutoff time for phone usage and switch your phone off at least an hour before your hit the sack. This will stop you from playing late night games and help you sleep better as well. When you feel the urge to check your phone, close your eyes and take a deep breath.