Is your cellphone addiction making you unsociable?

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Sabrina Almeida

It’s ironic that after all the hullabaloo about teens being addicted to their screens, their parents have fallen victim to this social malaise too!

On a weekend trip, a friend raised the issue with her spouse who was frequently checking his phone. For a change, the teenagers were happily engaged in activities or conversations with the rest of the group. The adults, on the other hand, were constantly peeking at their mobiles.

At every social gathering, I’ve observed friends constantly fiddling with their smartphones. It’s like an extension of their bodies. Or a comfort blanket, perhaps! Whether it is checking messages, forwarding photos and jokes to friends, or clicking selfies—they just can’t put the phones down.

I want to remind them that it’s rude to use your cellphone rule in company! But my reputation for being “least” engaged on social media prevents me from doing so. After all, what do I know, right!
While teen usage of electronic devices was branded as a major disruptor of family interaction, today several parents are just as addicted to their screens. One study suggests that this tech-addiction among older adults goes beyond bad manners. It affects the quality of parent-child relations and can lead to depression, anxiety, aggression and attention-seeking behaviour among their kids.

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In most cases, if not all of them, there is no pressing need to check or forward phone messages while at social engagements or when spending time with family.

A Pew study that appeared in the New York post at the end of 2017 made some startling revelations about North American cellphone habits. For one it revealed that on average Americans checked their devices every 12 minutes and around 80 times a day. Even more troubling was the finding that some respondents felt anxious when separated from their phones with 31 percent feeling regular anxiety and 60 percent experiencing occasional stress.

While this report pertained to our friends south of the border, in my experience the story is the much same here in Canada as well as India. It is both common and annoying to have friends pick up their phones during a conversation or meal for no apparent reason except that they are habituated to doing so.

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What’s worse is that is this phone addiction is making us socially inept. We use it to fill the gaps in conversation or to get out of it. I see no point in trying to make a digital connection or conversation when you are in a room full of people you can physically connect with.

Most individuals will acknowledge that this is wrong but continue to do it anyways. Which is why the concept of an ‘unplugged party’ is gaining popularity. However, I can see this making several of my invitees quite unhappy.

Many adults admit that they find it hard to put their smartphones aside for long periods of time. The extent of the problem can be inferred from the fact that we now have a term for this fear of not being able to use a phone or any other device. It’s called nomophobia!

Getting anxious or upset when you are unable to use your mobile or do not have it with you points to the gravity of the addiction. While some are uncomfortable because they would not know what to do without it, others can’t bear the idea of being disconnected from their digital social network even for a minute.

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Ever heard of ‘text neck’? It’s the new buzzword that describes neck pain associated with excessive cellphone usage! And it is becoming very common. According to health care practitioners looking down at your smartphone (tablet, e-reader or other electronic devices) for extended periods of time or frequently, affects postural and spinal alignment. This can cause upper back and shoulder pain or spasms, even lead to the early onset of arthritis. So, the next time you have a stiff neck, it could be the result of spending too much time playing Candy Crush.

Let’s get to the point! How often do you check your cellphone? Is it the first thing you reach for when you wake up and the last thing you glance at before you go to bed?? Even take it to the toilet??? Then you’re addicted and its time to detox!!! -CINEWS

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