BY VERONICA REINER
Throughout the past decade, cellphones and social media have had an enormous impact on our lives. The behemoth of social media, Facebook, started in 2004 and its influence has skyrocketed ever since. Other platforms followed.
Smartphones have undoubtedly influenced our way of thinking, so much so that there is an actual divide between the brains of those who have grown up with smartphones – digital natives – versus those who haven’t, called digital immigrants. But is this necessarily a good thing?
Smartphones have plenty of positive uses. They allow us to network, obtain research and insight into our posts and communicate with just about anyone, anywhere.
The bad news is these social media sites are wired to be addictive. Social validation is an important part of being human, so a Facebook or Instagram “like” is a social signal that makes us feel good.
Fear of missing out is also another reality of the cellphone addiction.
However, it is crucial to realize when our smartphone is becoming unhealthy. According to new research conducted by British psychologists, young adults use their smartphones over twice as much as they estimate they do, around roughly 80 times a day. Not only do they check it frequently, but another small preliminary study found that these young adults spent an average of five hours a day on their phones. That is one-third of their total waking hours. That is insanity.
Research shows that excessive technology use can impair attention, memory and productivity, increase stress levels, and reduce sleep quality. It also can lead to small cognitive errors, such as walking into a sign or forgetting meetings.
In addition, there is a new phenomenon known as “phubbing” created to describe the behaviour of snubbing someone in favour of a cellphone. Meaning another effect of excessive cellphone use is weakening real-life interactions. This also leads to poorer social skills.
So, the advice? Self awareness is a good first step. Be aware of how often you check your phone, remember to use it at appropriate times and places, and don’t be afraid to put it down for a few hours. Live in the present moment. It’s not only OK but oftentimes very rewarding to take a break from the digital world.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.