Have you ever thought about how frequently you use your smartphone? Do you often find yourself glued to your phone and find yourself distracted from real life issues? If your answer to this simple question is a yes, then you need to be cautious. In the present day world where everything is shifting online from food to medicines and education to work, it can be quite difficult to stay away from the phone. Using your smartphone for work purposes is another thing but depending upon it for all your emotions can be dangerous. Being so much dependent on a device and relying upon it can turn into an addiction which is also known as the problematic smartphone usage. Losing control over your usage timing and spending several hours over your phone while avoiding real life problems can have several negative impacts on your physical and mental health. The side effects of this problematic usage can range from neck pain or text neck to weight gain and from anxiety to self image issues.
Let us take a deep dive into this article and learn more about the problematic smartphone usage, its side effects and ways in which it can be managed for Dr. Neha Lal, Consultant Psychiatrist, Jain Multi-speciality Hospital.
What is Smartphone Addiction?
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Any behaviour becomes an addiction when one loses control over it. In case of smartphone usage, it would be called an addiction when an individual spends hours over using a smartphone in order to repetitively check their phone to look for messages, updates, likes, comments and other such things. Not just this but people with this addiction also tend to get irritated, anxious, frustrated if they have to stay away from their phone. In some cases these people also start ignoring other important pursuits over smartphone usage. The usage becomes problematic or turns into an addiction when it starts to impact the other aspects of life like work or relationships.
Side Effects Of Smartphone Addiction
Excessive smartphone usage drives one away from the real world. A person not just starts to rely upon his/her phone for all their emotions but comes in with some other side effects as well. These side effects can be in the form of-
- Reduced sleep
- Excessive or altered eating habits
- Weight gain and obesity
- Pain in neck and back.
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This addiction not just impacts a person's physical health but has adverse effects on his mental health as well. A person with problematic usage might experience-
- Reduced attention span
- Getting frustrated easily
- Mood swings
- Anxiety and
- Depression in severe cases.
It also affects productivity at work or studies as the individual is easily distracted which can lead to poor academic performance and even job loss. One's social life also gets affected with discord in relationships and family. There is thus a negative impact on not just physical and mental health but multiple areas of life.
Ways to Manage this Addiction
By now we are well aware of what a smartphone addiction is and ways in which it can hamper our physical and mental health. In order to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this problematic usage, let us take a look at some of the management tips as suggested by Dr. Neha-
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The first step would be to become aware of the problem. Accepting that one has smartphone addiction would help to look for solutions. Be mindful whenever using your smartphone. Keep your phone away when being charged or when going to sleep. Switch off notifications from the various apps unless absolutely necessary. When in the company of people, have conversations looking at each other instead of staring at the mobile screen. Observe your surroundings when travelling. Once a week plan for smartphone detox. And if nothing helps do not hesitate to seek professional help.
Dr. Neha says that “Next time you pick your phone ask yourself WHY NOW? WHAT FOR? IS IT URGENT? And if your answers are in the lines of -’I'm getting bored do realise you have time to pursue that interesting hobby you thought you had no time for.’ ”
(With inputs from Dr. Neha Lal, Consultant Psychiatrist, Jain Multi-speciality Hospital.)