While driving to school the other morning I passed a bus stop wherein six people where waiting for the bus to arrive, standing only about a foot or two from each other. Each person was facing away from each other in an almost circle like pattern. At first I thought the scene was quite strange until I noticed that every single person standing there was staring down at a cell phone in their hand. Not only has the cell phone morphed common human interactions like people waiting at a bus stop but a new addiction is arising. What's worse is that it's a socially acceptable addiction. More and more people are becoming dependent on their cell phones each day due to the common use and daily demand of these mobile devices.
They even have a word for this rising addiction now. Nomophobia is the term being used for the rising addiction of cell phone use. It's symptoms are strikingly similar to other addictions. Some of the symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, social isolation and depression. Essentially, if someone's phone behavior is affecting their work, social or home life it has crossed over the line into an addiction. Unlike other addictions, this one is tricker because it is so readily available and socially acceptable. It is necessary for most people to have cell phones in order to maintain their jobs and other functions. Whereas with drugs or gambling you have to relatively go out of your way to get your fix. I think this addiction would fall closer to other addictions like food and sex. There is no way to abstain, so the trick is to learn how to manage the addictive behavior.
Some people may find this amusing and even laughable. This kind of attitude is one of the driving forces behind this fast growing addiction. I can't tell you how many times I have heard people casually joking about a time they were texting while driving a car or how they wouldn't go anywhere without their phones. Because excessive usage of mobile devices is so common, it is easy for this addiction to be overlooked, minimized and even to some extent encouraged.
As far back as history shows us humans have a driving need to compete with one another. This is even reminiscent in cell phone use today. I remember when cell phones started to really take off about ten years ago. There were actually fake phones coming out for people who couldn’t afford an actual cell phone so that they could look important. I think this was an early sign of what was to come. When we see other people looking busy and in-demand via their cell phones this fuels us to try and look busy and important on our phones as well. This example is just one of the ways we create overly unnecessary use of phones. There is this psychology exercise called mirroring, in where if one person in a group crosses their legs while sitting down the others nearby, without realizing it, will soon cross their legs as well. Humans have a subconscious need to feel included and excepted. I can't help but see that this applies in cell phone use as well. When one person in the group starts using their cell phone the others start pulling their out as well. No one wants to feel like the odd man out.
It's important to establish and develop healthy boundaries with our cell phone and not let society under exaggerate the seriousness of this type of dependency. According to Dr. Sanjay Dixit, one of the researchers and the head of the Indian Journal of Community Medicine, people who use their cell phones more than three hours a day are at a higher risk of developing an addiction to their cell phone. It's almost as if it becomes a sort of security blanket for them. It is also important to note that one out of four phone addicts have been in some sort of accident while using their phones. This is due to phone addicts putting their craving's need over their own health and safety. I think everyone can benefit in changing the way we view and use our cell phones as a whole, regardless if weather we have signs of Nomophoia or not. We have to start with how we talk about it. Doing small thing like being aware of the amount of time spent on our cell phones and designating a shut off time will have a significant impact in developing appropriate cell phone use behavior and can help loosen its hold over everyday life.
I wrote this for my college english class this year for an informative essay assignment(without the pictures). My instructor encouraged me to post some of my essays and so I decided It might be thought provoking and worth sharing with you EMI readers. I have become more and more dependent on my cell phone over the past few years and this assignment couldn't come at a better time for me. I learned so much doing the research for this paper and it really helped me understand the gravity of establishing healthy boundaries not just with cellphones but other seemingly harmless addictions as well.