The smartphone is an incredible tool and you can always find one in the hand of nearly every person, no matter where you go. Be they young children, adolescents, or elderly people with walkers, their eyes are glued to the screen. They swipe, they scroll, they watch, they troll, and they get pulled into the endless vortex of social media, Internet, and games. The smartphone changed our lives, but are our lives more fulfilling and peaceful? No, they aren’t. In fact, anxiety and stress levels are through the roof, and smartphones influence that more than you realize.
Why Are You So Addicted To Your Phone?
The average person checks their phone 96 times a day, which is once every ten minutes. Some people get offended when you start talking to them if they are on their phones. Many experts believe that that anger comes from the fact that you break up the dopamine rush. With every notification you check and every unlock of the home screen, you receive a sudden dopamine boost. It’s like a hit of a drug, and the brain wants more after every time you check the phone. Because of this, people can never truly relax and calm their minds.
A recent study from the University of Arizona found that adolescents who depended on their phones were more likely to experience symptoms of depression and loneliness. This is interesting considering that people who are more depressed or anxiety-prone are more likely to engage with social media. It’s a vicious cycle and your cellphone won’t let you escape. This statistic is amplified by the increased depression and anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Couple that with increased screen time and you have a recipe for phone addiction giving you anxiety.
What Does Your Phone Addiction Do To Your Body?
As a result of constantly engaging with the phone, your stress levels increase, your sleep suffers, and you become more anxious. All of these things actually stimulate addiction. The crazy thing is that you feel obligated to keep up with social media, emails, and whatever the world is doing. Obligation easily evolves into addiction, and addiction creates stressful behaviors. The addiction to the phone often increases feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem, both of which worsen depression and anxiety. Your phone worsens your anxiety more than you realize, and we’ve detailed that below.
You Use It To Escape Reality
Many people take on a different online persona, or the very act of engaging with the virtual world is more pleasant than being in the real world. Understanding the reason you go online or check social media is very important. Do you do it to catch up with friends, stalk people, or get likes? Are you comparing yourself to others? The reason you scroll can determine how you feel after using it. Ask yourself these questions and more and you might discover a solid answer as to why your phone increases anxiety.
It Screws Up Your Sleep
Many scientific studies show that the blue light from smartphones makes it more difficult to go to sleep. Blue light from any device inhibits melatonin production, which is a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycle. If you are scrolling through social media and stressing yourself out, in addition to exposing yourself to blue light, up until you lay your head on the pillow, you will not sleep well. A 2017 study found that smartphones are one of the primary causes of sleep problems in teens. Failure to sleep can increase stress and increase the risk for depression and anxiety.
You Don’t Give Yourself A Break
If you don’t give yourself a break from your phone, how can you expect your anxiety to calm down? If your phone is within reach, you are going to check it. Your anxiety forces you to unlock the screen and check in with the world. If you bury your phone under the couch or put it in another room, the chances of you picking it up are much less. Take it a step further by taking time off from social media apps for a week. Several studies found that taking time away from Facebook for a week improved overall happiness. Change your digital life and your anxiety will thank you.
Can You Break The Addiction?
Social media is replete with funny memes, hurtful comments, political arguments, and more. You can argue the pros and cons of social media all day long. Add the Zoom conferences and necessity to check work emails into the mix and you have a serious problem. You have to set boundaries with your phone. Figure out when it’s okay to use it and when it’s not. No phone use at the dinner table, while watching a show with family, and definitely not within the hour before bed. Additionally, don’t look at your phone for the first hour of your day. You can also try to set a time limit of phone use per day. You can use apps to time your usage, or block apps altogether after a certain time limit. It is possible to break the addiction, but you have to work at it, otherwise you’ll remain addicted and filled with anxiety.