MANILA, Philippines – We live in a world where staying connected has become as necessary as eating and drinking.
Many need to have their smartphones with them all the time and check for Facebook or email updates every 5 minutes. The first question asked when entering an establishment has become, “Is there WiFi here?”
According to a recent study by Wikia quoted in HuffingtonPost.com, around half of young people or Generation Y-ers are actively connected (checking email, texting, surfing the Net) at least 10 hours a day. One in 4 is actively connected within 5 minutes after waking up.
Though this level of connectivity makes communication and staying updated merely a touchscreen away, is it really lessening the stress in your life?
Most likely, being dependent on your smart phone is adding to your anxiety and nerves.
A 2011 study showed that more than half of their student volunteers were unable to last 24 hours without their smartphones, computers and MP3 players.
Many of the volunteers reported mental and physical symptoms of distress when asked to unplug for an entire day.
“Students talked about how scary it was, how addicted they were. They expected the frustration. But they didn’t expect to have the psychological effects, to be lonely, to be panicked, the anxiety, literally heart palpitations,” said Susan Moeller, a professor who led the project, in an article on CBC.ca.
And so though many youngsters joke of their smartphone “addiction,” the study shows that this addiction may be significantly contributing to your stress levels.
Here are 5 signs of smartphone addiction you may want to watch out for:
1. You have to respond to texts or emails—right now.
If your heart starts being faster every second you don’t answer a text or email that has beeped into existence, chances are, you are addicted. If you constantly interrupt what you are doing—whether it’s writing a report or having dinner—just to reply to messages, it may have become compulsive behavior.
To stop the habit, remind yourself that perhaps responding can wait a few more moments. Take a deep breath and finish what you are doing first. Also try to sleep with your phone away from your bed and keep your phone in your bag instead of in your pocket.
2. Phantom cellphone syndrome haunts you
Have you ever felt your cellphone vibrate or hear it receive a message only to check it and see that no message was received? Phantom cellphone vibration syndrome is a sign of technology addiction and it’s spreading. A study conducted at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne found that 89% of students had experienced feeling non-existent cellphone vibrations.
3. FOMO grips you
Do you have a tendency to obsessively scroll through your feed to see what cool things your friends are doing and get bummed that you’re missing out? FOMO or “fear of missing out” is a punishment many tech addicts unwittingly (or willingly) put themselves through.
People with FOMO often think that by staying online and seeing their friends’ updates, they can somehow share in the experience. Another form of FOMO is the need to be online every moment to comment on exciting threads and conversations in their feed.
The best way to escape the tightening grip of FOMO is to step back and say no. Use your time offline to do things you really want to do and not what your feed is telling you to do.
4. You’re only half-there with the people you love
Not responding to a question of your physical companion because you’re too busy checking your gadget is a major sign of tech addiction. If you spend breakfast replying to texts while your loved ones are trying to make conversation, it’s a sign that, in some level, your technology is taking over your relationships.
To stop this, keep your phone away from the dinner table. When talking to someone, focus on the person and the conversation. Really listen to your companion and make an effort to make meaningful replies.
5. You feel restless when you’re away from your phone
Studies have found that people who turn off their phones or stay away from them experience physical and mental withdrawal symptoms similar to those of drug addicts and chain smokers!
In Telegraph.co.uk, participants of one such study said that “they felt like they were undergoing ‘cold turkey’ to break a hard drug habit, while others said it felt like going on a diet.” The condition is now called Information Deprivation Disorder.
If you feel anxious and restless when you can’t access your phone, take note of your feelings and find a way to cope with your withdrawal. Take a walk in a park, paint, write, do breathing exercises or indulge in an activity that relaxes you.
Training your body and mind to unplug starts now. –With reports from Pia Ranada/Rappler.com