What is Screen addiction?
Smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc., has surely enabled the human race to take giant steps ahead. Today, technology is helping us in numerous ways. It’s almost everywhere. However, there is another side to the picture; the ugly side. Over-indulgence and marathon sessions on social media platforms, be it just playing games or chatting or surfing through different sites, has taken us away from our surroundings and isolated us from the people around us. We constantly find ourselves checking texts messages, emails, or using the many different apps available on our smart phones—even when this over-indulgence has negative consequences in our life—it may be time to introspect and really look at how the use or abuse of technological gadgets and our compulsive use of the same has impacted our lives.
Smartphone addiction, sometimes known as “nomophobia” (fear of being without a mobile phone), is a form of screen or internet addiction disorder.
The screen or mobile or the internet addiction may lead to;
Unrealistic relationships. Social networking, dating apps, texting, and messaging brings an entirely different dimension to relationships. There comes a point when these unrealistic or virtual relationships appear better than the real ones. They start becoming a substitute to real life interactions. Online associations appear to be convenient, as they tend to exist in a virtual world, without much commitment. It is changing the experience of real relationships and also the efforts needed to develop a real relationship.
Over inputs to mind. Too much of information within a very short span of time creates issues. It exhausts our brain and leads to state of confusion. The brain goes through sudden change of emotional stages and more often than not, these stages are totally different and unrelated thereby creating an emotional imbalance.
Pornography addiction. Online availability and use of pornographic material, messaging, chats and videos can also become a compulsive pattern and may lead to sexual addictions and distortions. This leads to distorted and endless fantasies that are impossible in real life. This may lead an individual in an unrealistic world of desires and ideas and thereby damage existing or future relationships.
Other compulsive behaviours. Gambling, texting, shopping and gaming are some of the other screen behaviours that may lead to financial mismanagement, over indulgence and also emotional disturbances.
The smaller or easier things are to carry the more prone we are to using them. While we may seem to be able to control our usage of laptop or desktop computer, the size and convenience of a mobile phone makes it more difficult to control our indulgence. In fact, most of us are rarely ever more than few feet from our phones. Like the use of drugs and alcohol, they can trigger the release of the brain chemical dopamine and alter your mood. You can also rapidly build up tolerance so that it takes more and more time in front of these screens to derive the same pleasurable reward.
Just like any other addiction or escape mechanism, phone use can often be a manifestation of some other underlying problems, such as stress, anxiety, depression, or loneliness. As a matter of fact this escape into the smartphones can actually cut you off and make you more stressed and anxious.
The slow devastation
Unrealistic comparison, loneliness and depression. While it may seem that losing yourself online will temporarily make feelings such as loneliness, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air, it can actually make you feel even worse. Studies have found a correlation between high social media usage and depression and anxiety. Users, especially teens, tend to compare themselves unrealistically with others on social media, leading to feelings of loneliness, depression and frustration.
Stretching stress. Continuous inputs through phones may further lead to a person having to check and recheck to ensure that everything is okay. It further demands that we keep in touch all the time which in turn requires us to be online. This in fact leads to the build-up of stress and to an extent that it crosses bearable limits.
Bombarding attention. The continuous inputs of messages and information may overwork the brain and make it impossible to focus attention on any one thing for more than a few minutes without feeling compelled to move on to something else.
Vanishing sleep. Excessive smartphone use can disturb sleep patterns. Lack of proper sleep can create havoc not only with brain functions but overall body functions. It disturbs the entire biological clock.
I, Me and Myself. People who spend a lot of time on social media are more likely to display negative personality traits such as narcissism. Selfies, posting all your thoughts or details about your life can create an unhealthy self-centeredness, distancing you from real-life relationships and making it harder to cope with stress.
How much use is OK?
There is no specific defined amount of time to categorize it as addictive behaviour.
When our indulgence begins to interfere with other areas of our life such as relationships, work, learning, rest, leisure or other important things in our life that is a sign that we are getting addicted to our smart phones. Thereafter, it becomes an issue that needs to be addressed.
What do you mean by imbalance?
Things not finishing. Small routine jobs are not getting finished or completed in time. We find that we are unable to complete our chores or responsibilities on time. Because of our over indulgence different areas of our life get effected.
Getting lost or isolated. If you’re in a meeting or chatting with friends, do you lose track of what’s being said because you’re checking your phone? Have friends and family expressed concern about the amount of time you spend on your phone?
I don’t use it!!!. Do you prefer a quiet place to use your phone? Do you hide your smartphone use or lie about the amount of time you spend online? Do you get irritated or angry or disturbed if your screen time is interrupted?
Ohh! I am missing something. Do you get this feeling if you don’t check or have access to you phone or screen you are missing something?
A common warning sign of screen addiction is experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to cut back on your use. These may include:
Craving access to the device
Not enjoying anything
There are a number of steps one can take to bring screen usage under control. While you can initiate many of these measures yourself, an addiction is hard to beat on your own, especially when temptation is always within easy reach. It can be all too easy to slip back into old patterns of usage.
Look for outside support, whether it’s from family, friends, or a professional therapist.
Ask for help.