Contributor: Drew Turner
Do you find yourself checking your devices the first thing when you wake up, last thing before going to bed, in the middle of the night, at meals, while walking, and while driving or stopping at a traffic light? If you have answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then you probably have some degree of screen addiction.
Adam Alter, a social psychologist, was asked by a reporter, “How do you define ‘addiction?’” “It has to be something you enjoy doing in the short term, that undermines your well-being in the long term — but that you do compulsively anyway,” Dr. Alter continued, “If a person is in front of a slot machine, their brain will look qualitatively the same as when they take heroin. If someone compulsively plays video games — not everyone, but for some, the minute they load up their computer, their brain will look like that of a substance abuser.”
Several articles report that, “For every 100 hours that you spend talking on the phone, you drastically increase the risk of brain cancer.” I might recommend for all of us to at least talk on the phone in moderation.
I found it fascinating that an article in Psychology Today tells us that 40% of the American population suffers from this addiction. On top of this, 58% of men and 47% of women suffer from Nomophobia, i.e. the fear of being without a smartphone. To me, this is a sad statistic. This article goes on to say that, “44% of the people have stated that they become very anxious when they lose their phones.”
Many people who are screen addicted whether it be to phones, computers, internet, social media and/or gaming become less and less connected to the real world. Many articles talk about how relationships with family and friends suffer because they spend less time in face to face communication.
What can we do in order to be less addicted to our devices?
1. When you have meals with friends, put away your phone and politely ask them to do the same.
2. When you have family meals, put all phones in another room so there are no distractions.
3. Dock your devices in a different room before you go to sleep.
4. If your device is tempting while you drive, then throw it in the back seat and enjoy a peaceful ride.
5. I would like to challenge everyone, including myself, to replace at least one text a day with personal contact.
We are losing the art of real communication. Parents, if you want a real relationship with your kids modeling this is key!
Please keep in mind that interaction on devices isn’t live conversation and touch. Let’s not lose opportunities for joy, laughter and love through enjoying real life interaction.