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Mental disorders can be risk factors for smartphone addiction

Mental disorders can be risk factors for smartphone addiction

April 25 | By Rachael

Many people today would vouch for the statement – “When nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone.” The average age at which an American teenager receives his or her first phone is 10.3, according to a report Kids & Tech: The Evolution of Today’s Digital Natives. Rather than spending quality time with friends, and playing outdoor games demanding strenuous physical activity, today’s kids tend to bury their nose in their smartphones and video games. Gone are the days when children used to play unattended, dig in the dirt or ride bikes in the street with the neighborhood kids, etc.

Although studies related to smartphone addiction is still in its infancy, a plethora of studies have highlighted that the problem is clearly on the rise. The rapid rise in screen time among children has emerged as a matter of grave concern. This not only impacts their health but also massively impairs their cognitive skills like concentration, decision-making capacity, etc.

The heavy reliance on smartphones due to the facility to multitask has led to the development of fear of living without phone known as nomophobia. The widespread occurrence of this fear is now making psychologists devise effective strategies to cope with this problem. The growing role of smartphones in classrooms has been responsible for increasing the rate of depression, suicide and other emotional challenges among children.

Separation from smartphones spikes negative symptoms

In 2015, researchers at the University of Iowa coined the term nomophobia for anxiety arising out of smartphone separation. In the same year, a study was cleverly designed to measure the feelings of anxiety and unpleasantness among iPhone users when separated from their phones. The participants were under the impression that they were testing for a wireless blood pressure (BP) cuff and their phones were confiscated to avoid any interference with the cuff’s Bluetooth technology. The phones were kept away from the participants.

The study found that the BP and heart rates of the participants spiked due to their inability to answer to their phones ringing at a distance. This study, published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication in 2015, was among the first to effectively demonstrate separation anxiety from smartphones.

Emotional instability and mental disorders can lead to smartphone addiction

According to a recent study, conducted by a team of psychologists from the University of Derby and Nottingham Trent University, people suffering from mental health problems are more likely to intensively use their smartphones. Therefore, emotionally unstable users have a higher risk of getting addicted to smartphones compared to their counterparts without any problem. Based on the information collected online from 640 smartphone users between age 13 and 69, the researchers assessed the association between smartphone use and personality traits.

The researchers pointed to the interplay of multiple psychological factors. People experiencing emotional instability, family problems and mental illnesses like anxiety or depression were found to be more dependent on smartphones.

Seek help and learn to disconnect sometimes

Small adjustments, such as deleting the apps seldom used, turning off notifications for the apps being used and opting for manual refresh, can help users in being less stressed out about updates. Restricting nighttime use by not using the device at least 30 minutes before bedtime should be able to help one get good quality sleep.

People struggling with excessive dependence on smartphones need to check for underlying mental health issues as just limiting screen time may not help much in complete recovery. It is imperative to seek help for anxiety, depression or any other mental health issues that may be the root cause of smartphone addiction.

If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety disorders, you can contact the experts at Texas Anxiety Treatment Help to access the effective treatment options. Chat online or call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-487-5015 for information on some of the best anxiety disorder treatment centers in Texas.

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