As the selfie craze and short-form video consumption grow exponentially in India, healthcare experts caution that the constant urge to stay connected on digital platforms is leading to several mental health issues, including a condition called ‘phantom pocket vibration syndrome’.
Phantom pocket vibration syndrome is when a person feels the phone vibrating in his/her pocket when it’s not. The best way to combat the syndrome is to reduce the overall usage of mobile phones and turn off the vibration sometimes.
“Overuse of mobile phones and social media has severe effects on the mental health of children as well with developing problems like increased risk of depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts,” Gorav Gupta, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Tulasi Healthcare, New Delhi, told IANS.
Sometimes, social media is the reason for promoting negative experiences like inadequacy about one’s life and appearance.
Selfie phones and selfie sticks are no longer just a convenience, but are considered the new symbol of self-absorption, experts said, adding that the selfie fever can further isolate this generation and those to come.
Behavioural experts have divided selfies into three broad categories — those taken with friends, those taken during certain activities or events, and those that focus on physical appearance.
A study, published in the journal ‘Psychology of Popular Media Culture’, found that people who post a lot of selfies tend to have higher levels of certain narcissistic traits, such as fragile self-esteem.
According to experts, we should be worried about the nature and the intensity of the digital interface children have. It’s not only about a selfie or making a video.
“It’s also about why you make a selfie and whether you are feeling conformity/peer pressure on social media, are you trying to imitate someone, are you losing your originality, or you are focused so much upon whether what you post is liked or not that you lose track of what are the more important things in life,” Samir Parikh, Director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, told IANS.
When it comes to videos, the same thing happens. More importantly, the more digital interface you have, the more you are likely to go away from physical activity, social engagement, academics, sports and creativity.
“And then more and more of your time is spent indoors, in front of a mobile phone. So, it’s that aspect of digital interface which is a bigger concern. It’ll affect your concentration abilities or a physical component or your social aspect,” Parikh said.
Parents should encourage children to have a balanced life and engage in physical activities and sports and meet friends, the experts advised.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, and even earlier than that, India has seen a huge spike in the number of mobile phone users, especially children with the numbers increasing every year.
“The best way out of this problem for parents is to limit the amount of time their children spend on these electronic gadgets. Avoid giving young or newborn babies phones for playing games or watching videos, basically for distracting them. Parents can also disallow children to use mobile phones late at night which can sometimes become the reason for insomnia,” said Gupta.