The average person spends around three hours on their phone while checking it around 50 times per day. The latest feeds, messages, emails, games and swiping flirts are available at any time and place. This process rewards our brains in similar ways as gambling and might cause a drug-like addiction and an imbalance in our hormone chemistry. Like any other addiction, over-use of cell phones can cause significant issues in our social life and mental well-being.
Winning at mobile games, matches on dating apps, the next like on Instagram and the newest trends in fashion and lifestyle are just a glance away. While we know that over-consumption of food, alcohol and gambling correlates with mental and physical health issues, we tend to ignore these consequences when it comes to smartphone usage. Studies show that our mobile phones can develop similar impacts on our mental health as drugs.
Smartphones are linked to ADHD-like behavior and stress
Our brains react to unpredicted accomplishments and even their expectation by increasing its dopamine level. It connects successful occasions to the feel-good-hormone, we bond the positive emotion to our behavior and crave for more. Our smartphone can be compared to a social slot machine that rewards our brain with micro jackpots like notifications, articles and matches on Tinder. This constant need for the next rush keeps people in a constant state of stress.
And while, for example, dating apps have their perks on flirting and meeting new people much faster than in real life, they should be enjoyed in moderation. Not only are our hormones involved, apps can impact our most vulnerable and personal data, too.
Social apps not only affect our hearts but also most of the information stored on our devices. This research on data access shows that dating apps are among other apps no exception in data leeching. So before installing any game, flirt or social media app, take a moment to think about your digital well-being and the impacts on your data and self-care.
Speaking of self-care, a study on smartphone usage at the University of British Columbia connects ADHD-like behavior to smartphone overuse. They found that inattentiveness and symptoms of ADHD were recognized among people who compulsively used their mobile phones in a week-long experiment.
“Participants reported higher levels of inattention and hyperactivity when alerts were on than when alerts were off. Higher levels of inattention in turn predicted lower productivity and psychological well-being.”
– University of British Columbia, “Silence Your Phones: Smartphone Notification Increase Inattentive and Hyperactivity Symptoms”
The brains reaction to the mentioned alerts is an overall rise of stress and distraction while checking the devices release positive feelings.
Every match on a dating app or achievement in a mobile game leads to a micro-rush of dopamine that gives us a good vibe. Although the quick hormonal reward can lead to addiction and even an imbalance in our brain chemistry.
As our dopamine level increases periodically through the mentioned factors, it diminishes in the same scope after putting the phone away. Depending on our smartphone-habits, we can feel upset and restless if we don´t access our phone anymore. The ability to focus can decrease and we might even feel anxious or depressed as the brain is missing the usual trigger for its dopamine blow out.
Our brain remembers the dopamine rush of swiping around and that’s why it feels so satisfying and some users can´t stop checking their smart devices. Quick satisfaction is then linked to this trigger and the brain demands it over and over again.
Compulsive use of Mobile Apps can cause Anxiety and Drowsiness
Depending on the vulnerabilities to addiction, mobile apps affect people in different ways. As smartphone addiction stays often unnoticed, social media, games etc. can lead to an increase of compulsive behavior as there are no direct social consequences in the day to day use.
Smartphone apps are not only conditioning us into using them for our daily dose of short term happiness, the excessive use leads furthermore to insomnia, depression and anxiety, as Science Daily reports in their article about smartphone addiction.
Today’s mobile phones replace gaming consoles, newspapers, social interactions, flirting etc. On the one hand it´s absolutely stunning to have access to all these different services by turning on a small piece of tech, on the other hand it can be troublesome to mentally rely on it.
We should give ourselves smartphone breaks and occasionally turn them off for some time, especially in the evenings. Finding a healthy and balanced approach to smart devices might help a lot of people to be overall happier and enjoy life beyond their screens in much brighter colors.