99FM – Your Inspiration Station

The prison walls of your cell… phone

Reduced melatonin levels possibly leading to neuro-degenerative diseases later in life, impaired concentration, eye problems, increased stress, chronic pain, heart disorders and these are just some of the major health concerns that are coming from an addiction that has been shown to light up the same part of the brain as cocaine use, and shows a link to a reduction in your brains grey matter. Surprisingly the addiction in question is phone addiction. It seems we human beings have become addicted to the need to check in with our phones because of the release of feel-good chemicals, such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin our smart phones give us. It also seems this is leading to problems such as depression, elevated blood pressure and sleep deprivation.

Grey Heart-01Time reports Dr. Paul Atchley, a cognitive psychologist at Kansas University as saying, “We’re inherently social organisms. There’s almost nothing more compelling than social information, which activates part of your brain’s reward system. Your noodle is also hardwired to respond to novel sights or sounds. So something like a buzz or beep or flashing light is tapping into that threat detection system. The article by Time goes on to say, “combine that sudden beep with the implicit promise of new social info, and you have a near-perfect, un-ignorable stimulus that will pull your focus away from whatever task your brain is working on. And while you may think you can quickly check a text or email and pick up that task where you left off, you really can’t.”

It seems science is now not only proving a link between a reduction in your grey matter and smartphone usage, but also that once focused on a complex problem solving task, it can take you up to 25 minutes to get your brain back on track after one single technologically delivered interruption.

99FM’s MYD Heart spoke to trend analyst, creative thinker and innovator, Dion Chang from Flux Trends, about cell phone addiction who says “You see a lot of domestic conflict between spouses, parents and children. There’s always one spouse that’s more digitally addicted, I call it digital addiction and what’s interesting is that it’s showing up more in females than in males although it’s not limited to one sex.”

Dion goes on to explain that “Every time you launch a new app, or when you get a like or comment on your post, you get a dopamine surge, so that’s how the addiction builds up.”

Orange Heart-01Dion notes that “Nomophobia is the panic of having left your mobile phone somewhere and if you ask someone who has ever left their phone somewhere, these are real feelings. Countries in Asia are far advanced with regards to internet addiction, for example in China there are three hundred internet addiction clinics.”

Coupled with the social-decay-producing qualities of unbridled cell phone usage comes news of the decay of a more skin deep variety. An article by mic.com notes that cell phone addiction is becoming big business in the beauty industry saying that “the cosmetics industry has switched focus to the “Y-zone” around our jowls and neck, which are apparently drooping and wrinkling in younger women who check their devices up to 150 times a day.” The article adds that “plastic surgeons are promoting face-lifts and fat injections to reverse signs of phone and tablet use. Plastic surgery procedures reached a record high in the U.K. in 2015, with the number of neck lifts among women up by 16%”

Blue Heart-01Author Jenna Woginrich writes that she gave up her cell phone after realising she was addicted to it and that now “My phone has become the phone. It’s no longer my personal assistant; it has reverted back to being a piece of furniture – like the fridge or the couch, two other items you also wouldn’t carry around on your butt. I didn’t get rid of it for some hipster-inspired luddite ideal or because I couldn’t afford it. I cut myself off because my life is better without a cell phone. I’m less distracted and less accessible, two things I didn’t realize were far more important than instantly knowing how many movies Kevin Kline’s been in since 2010 at a moment’s notice. I can’t be bothered unless I choose to be. It makes a woman feel rich.”

To counter this growing addiction Dion Chang notes that companies are starting to implement programs to help their employees switch off. “In the business world you see a new growth in setting boundaries and the epicentre is in the German Automobile Association. So, for example, if you are an employee and your shift has ended, you don’t have to respond to emails or phone calls from your employer.”

Pink Heart-01In terms of advice from the experts for people who find themselves, eating dressing and sleeping with their mobile devices in order to be able to check them as often as possible, Time references Dr. Paul Atchley research as finding a solution by “Spending time in nature may counteract the focus-draining effects of too much tech time. Meditation may also offer focus-strengthening benefits”

While a complete shutdown of connectivity may seem a bit extreme, this information is revealing a need to keep our smart phone usage in check, suggesting the benefits of the sporadic unplug and re-connect. Really re-connecting… with life. While we as a society may benefit greatly from the advancement technology affords us, the old adage still applies, everything in moderation.

Read more about mobile phone addiction here :
Time – Phone Addiction
Forbes – Internet Addiction shows up in the Brain
Washington Post – Six Step Program for Breaking Your Smartphone Addiction
Mic – Awesome News Your Phone Addiction is Bad for Your Skin
The Guardian – Journalist who gave up her Mobile Phone to break her Addiction


Article written by Kirsty Watermeyer