Do you find yourself looking at your cell phone every few seconds? Unable to pull yourself away from scrolling, scrolling, scrolling? Alternatively, do you use your phone all the time? If so, you might be addicted to your mobile device. Unfortunately, studies are now showing that addiction to mobile technology is linked to anxiety and depression.
One study surveyed hundreds of college students about their mental health and cell phone use. From the results, they found that students who exhibited addictive behaviors often had mental health issues as well.
Why does technology use seem to be linked to anxiety and depression? There are several factors. First, some people get intense anxiety when they cannot be on their phones. The technology becomes a security blanket of sorts, helping people with social anxiety shield themselves from others and the potential embarrassment that comes from social interaction.
Studies have also shown that people get a release of feel-good chemicals in the brain when they get a notification or receive a “like” on social media. This makes the experience more addicting. Think about when you have posted a photo on social media in the past, and it didn’t receive any likes or comments. It probably made you feel bad, right? Alternatively, most of us have gotten a rude or negative comment from a stranger online as well. As we put more and more of ourselves on the Internet, we are inviting others to judge us.
Cell phones and social media also started the term FOMO or the “fear of missing out”. We see all of our friends and family living these amazing lives or hanging out without us, thus creating another cycle of anxiety and depression. When, in reality, people tend to only post the positive things from their life online and not how they truly feel.
Research did show that people without mental health issues who only use their phone for productivity or avoiding boredom aren’t as much at risk. People who already live with anxiety and depression are more likely to use their phone as a tool to hide from the world, thus increasing their anxiety and depression.
If you suffer from an addiction to technology, anxiety, depression, or another mental disorder, please seek help. A doctor or therapist can work with you on a program to help reduce your addiction, anxiety, and/or depression.
Here are some other ways to stop being so addicted to your phone:
- Set timers for when you will use your phone. Turn your phone off when you are in the company of others or working, studying, or otherwise need to focus on the task at hand. Many phones now come with the capability to track your usage and set limits.
- Turn off the notifications. The ding of a notification is often what gets people addicted to their devices. Turn all of your notifications off except for calls and see how it makes you feel and how often you check your phone now.
- Keep your phone out of reach. Of course, you will want to check it every five seconds if it is right in front of you. Try putting your phone in another room, charging it in another room at night, or putting it in a drawer when you need a break.
- Set a timer when you pick up your phone. Allow yourself only a certain amount of time to check social media, text, or do anything else on your cell phone. This avoids the “ludic loop” which means that you meant to only Google something, but now you are stuck in the never-ending cycle of checking all of your Apps.
- Replace your phone habit with another healthier habit. Whenever you feel the need to check your phone unnecessarily, do something else. Try reading a book instead.
- Delete an App after you are done. You can easily delete and re-download Apps. Delete an App after every time you look at it. Thinking that you have to re-download it again might encourage you to look at it less.
What else would you add to this list? Do you think that phone addiction can lead to anxiety and depression? What Apps do you feel you are most addicted to?
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