Are you addicted to your phone?

Cyber addiction - a very real disorder

Cyber addiction is a known phenomenon, with internet addiction a diagnosable disorder, causing physical, mental and social problems. Addiction is the process whereby we develop a physiological need to experience a stimulus,and suffer symptoms in its absence. This could be beer, cocaine or even twitter. Checking for new messages, reviewing posts and waiting for replies all activate reward centres in our brains. Phones are very good at shortcutting time in building addiction pathways.

Mobile phones are not heroin, but the neuropsychological pathways tending to both are the same. Studies have shown that phone loss can lead to extreme anxiety, with up to 44% questioned stating real concern at loss. These symptoms can include anger, panic, fear and irritability. Alcohol withdrawal is similar, so it's worth considering just how serious this addiction could be.

Stress related to phone use is a real risk and we must also be aware of the effect of chronic exposure of negative news on our health. Repeated exposure to stimuli which we perceive as negative is linked with the development of chronic stress and associated cardiovascular and mental health problems. I certainly can vouch for constant stress as a result of checking Facebook, even if my concerns are of a certainly grumpier nature.

Perhaps we could take a step back and limit uses age, and ask ourselves, would we be happier? Perhaps by addressing our addiction to these bits of plastic we can begin to understand the grip they have on us. And maybe losing them can be less of a curse than a blessing.

I'll leave it up to you, but I ask, how long has it been since you checked your Facebook? And does it worry you?

Sources and further reading:

1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37468560

2) http://patient.info/wellbeing/health/could-stress-be-killing-you

3) http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/585219_2

4) http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/addicted-your-smartphone-what-to-do?page=2

5) http://www.psychguides.com/guides/computerinternet-addiction-symptoms-causes-and-effects/

6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480687/

7) http://patient.info/health/alcohol-drugs-and-addiction

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