Mobile addiction affecting mental health ?
In today’s day and age, almost everyone owns a smartphone and engages in some activity, whether social media, online shopping, gambling, stock trading, gaming, text messaging, etc.
With the pandemic upon us, we are all the more glued to our smartphones than ever, either due to online classes, grocery shopping, or because there is less opportunity for us to socialize. Thus, scrolling through social media and other video and dating apps has become our only way to connect us to the outside world.
We know about the physical effects of the blue light of the phone screen on our eyes but is your smartphone affecting your mental health? Let’s find out more.
The connection between social media and your mental health
Although smartphones are a boon to human interaction and knowledge, research shows that it harms one’s mental health. Most of the research related to smartphones is based on social media, as it is probably the biggest reason people spend a lot of time on their smartphones.
In 2020 there were around 3.96 billion people in the world who used social media. In 2015 there were approximately 2.07 billion users, which shows that there has been an increase of 92.76% users of social media over the five years.
Research shows a link between the use of social media with poor sleep quality, well-being, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Other studies show that the use of social media causes inattention and hyperactivity, often seen in teens and adolescents.
A recent study also found that there is, in fact, a causal link between the use of social media and depression and loneliness. This research was the first study to have established a causal link between social media and poor well-being.
This study found that people who used social media less were less likely to be depressed and lonely. No matter their initial levels or their baseline condition, if the participants were told to limit their use of social media, they had less depression.
FOMO and well-being
Fear of missing out or popularly known as FOMO is another mental health consequence of social media use. It is a relatively new phenomenon popularly used by millennials and also has a lot of psychological significance.
FOMO is like a feeling or experience that your peers and colleagues are doing, know about, or possess something better than you. You mostly tend to get this information by watching your colleagues and peers post on social media. Thus, limiting your social media use can reduce FOMO.
It has been established by research that when participants engaged in a seven-day social media abstinence trial, researchers found a significant decrease in FOMO with social media abstinence, and participants experienced a substantial increase in mental well-being.
We are in the constant fear of not being up to date with all the recent trends and information, which causes us to be anxious and stressed, which is very much apparent given the pandemic situation today.
Online shopping and mental health
Youngsters and the working population are the majority of online shoppers today. Many of us scroll through shopping websites, whether for groceries, home equipment, or clothing either out of necessity or leisure. Our purchases have increasingly become online due to the pandemic, and because we have spare time, we may mindlessly scroll through these websites.
The personalized features, nudges, and suggestions on most shopping websites pressure people to scroll through or spend more. People who are impulsive or indecisive can be affected by this, leading to stressful feelings.
Research shows that when there is a lot to choose from online, it affects our choice overload and is associated with anxiety experiences.
Gaming and mental health
Today, gaming has become like a default leisure activity amongst youth. The variety of games available online have caused people to be glued to their smartphones. Playing games on smartphones is more accessible than playing on the laptop or Xbox, as games on phones can be played anywhere with ease and comfort, either on the couch or on the bed.
Gaming, too, has significant impacts on one’s mental health. Research shows that mobile game addiction is positively related to mental health problems. Studies found mental health problems being caused by mobile game addiction for male adolescents. They are bound to encounter a more elevated level of social tension, gloom, and dejection after unnecessary utilization of mobile gaming.
How to cope
- Limit your screen time
If you have an inbuilt setting that can limit your screen time, toggle that button on. If you do not have this, there are apps you can download to limit your screen time. Use your phone for a fixed period, one and a half-hour in a day, and stick to that.
- Disable notifications
It is best to toggle off notifications from social media, e-commerce, gaming, and other not-so-valuable apps, which will help you to reduce your urge to check your phone now and then.
- Delete apps if necessary
If you feel like you cannot help but check your phone and scroll through apps, delete those apps until you feel like you have overcome the urge to check your device constantly
- Prioritize your work
When you make a good list of the things you have to get done in the day, you are more likely to be focusing on those things than scrolling through your phone. If you feel too overwhelmed with your work, you can try taking a walk or talking to a friend rather than using your phone.
- Practice calming techniques
Practicing calming techniques like yoga and meditation will help you be calmer and more mindful of your activities. Thus, you will immediately catch yourself mindlessly scrolling through your phone, and then you can replace it with something more productive like sketching, cooking, cleaning, etc.
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