This is the question that is being the topic of a heated debate among scientists around the world. So far, the research has not heralded any positive outcome.
Smartphones revolutionized interpersonal communication, became an integral part of everyday life, and many people, especially youngsters, cannot imagine life without it. Mobile electronic devices have stopped being just phones. In a very short time since the appearance of the first models on the market, they have become a window to the world, a handy source of entertainment and knowledge, a navigation gadget.
Smartphones cannot run out of its applications. Every day we have an access to an enchanted world of social media, blogs, websites, e-books, thousands of films, music, computer games, etc. Smartphone addiction – there is no use being surprised that young generation of people cannot stop being glued to their screens.
The other side of the coin
However, as it turns out – this unlimited access to millions of gigabytes of data can be overwhelming, impair everyday functioning (especially in adolescents) and Negatively affect our self-esteem. Recently, the media is concerned with smartphones and its connection to depression and addiction which are the problems more and more users of new technologies are struggling with. What is the truth? Are we really dealing with an epidemic of depression caused by the widespread availability of smartphones?
What does the research inform us about?
The extensive research is currently being conducted on the impact of mobile devices on the human psyche. Scientists focus particularly on children and adolescents because it is the youngest generations that are the biggest enthusiasts of smartphones. The conclusions emerging from previous studies leave no doubt: the abuse of smartphones leads to addiction.
This is a growing problem all over the world. The scale of this phenomenon is noticeable and confirmed by the increasing annual number of addiction centers for people addicted to mobile devices. Therefore, the question arises: where is the line between rational use of a smartphone and addiction? It is difficult to give a universal answer. One can only point out the typical symptoms of addiction. An addicted person spends more and more time using a smartphone, Neglects daily duties, as well as relationships with other people.
In a situation where there is no access to the smartphone, a person suffering from addiction feels strong anxiety. In extreme cases, one can cut back on sleep, eat less and avoid other activities. Any attempts to refrain from using a mobile device end in Intense anxiety, strong agitation, headaches, nervousness and a compulsive desire to reach for the phone.
Smartphones and depression
The relationship between the use of smartphones and depression is more complex. Numerous scientific studies have proved that frequent use of social media (and other related activities on which users spend a significant amount of time) can underestimate self-esteem. Observing the lives of other people, which seem vibrant, interesting and fascinating on Facebook, gives the impression that we lead an empty, boring and uninteresting life.
Virtual interactions with others are of a significant value as well. In a world where our attractiveness is determined by the number of likes and friends (or rather by followers) it is hard to maintain a good opinion about yourself if your Posts don’t produce the desired response. Hate on the Internet is a separate problem. Many teenagers are subject to verbal and psychological violence.
Social media is a convenient place for many harmful malicious gossips, embarrassing photos and other materials to be spread. Scientists’ findings from the world’s most leading universities show a clear correlation between the frequency of use of mobile devices and the risk of depression.
In the face of all these pessimistic facts, do we have to throw our phones away? Of course not – the key is to use our smartphones in healthy moderation, use its conveniences wisely and not give up other activities.