Nine in ten Irish people now either own or have smartphone access. A research commissioned last year by Deloitte shows that 90 per cent of 18- to 75-year-olds or about three million people in Ireland – now own or have access to a smartphone, a figure which ranks among the highest in Europe. According to a study by research firm Dscout, the average user touches their phone 2617 times a day. Just looking at this statistics, Have you ever thought about how many times you check your phone a day? Well social media has connected us enormously, but it has also isolated us more than ever.
The phone was first introduced in April 1973, it was traditionally a means to communicate, share ideas and interact with people but nowadays the phone is a way to isolate one’s self from the society. Phone addiction has risen over the years and has contributed to the increase in number of depression, suicide, isolation etc. The rate of depression and anxiety is high and many experts reports social media as being a major factor of this growing epidemic.
“Mobile devices are a relatively new ‘addiction’ to our social fabric and they form an important part of our daily activities and interactions. Social norms will develop over time, and it will be interesting to see if the fear of being without one’s phone – nomophobia – starts to become more widely recognised,” Richard Howard, head of technology, media and telecommunications at Deloitte, said.
Dr Colman Noctor is a psychotherapist at St Patrick’s University Hospital, Dublin who has a special interest in how technology impacts on our mental health, he explains that “people are not referred to us for smartphone addiction. It’s usually for anxiety, depression or other things but when you start to unpack their issues, a problematic relationship with technology is often there,”.
“Abstinence isn’t a possibility, It’s like food – it’s everywhere so it’s about managing and negotiating a better relationship with technology. The emphasis has to be on the human element and stepping back and finding your sense of autonomy. What people need to do is to find value in other things,” says Noctor.
There are ways to find out if you are addicted to your phone, lets do this exercise and see what your responses are;
Are you behind time in completing your assignment or chores because you are spending a lot of time on your smartphone?
Do you find it difficult to socialise, do you prefer texting or meeting face-to-face?
Do you lose track of what people are saying because you’re too busy checking your phone?
Do you feel distress, anxiety or panic if you leave your phone at home or the battery runs down?
Do you conceal or lie about your smartphone use by sneaking off somewhere quiet to be online?
Do you feel you are missing out on important news or feel others are having a better time than you if you don’t check your phone regularly?
Now what were you response? if you answer YES to all, then am afraid you are addicted to your phone.
On the 3rd of January 2020 I did a radio documentary on phone addiction and ask people if they could stay without their phone for 24hours and this were their response.