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Mobile Addiction

What is the Psychology behind mobile addition and How to get rid of mobile addition?

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    According to Psychology Today magazine, “When a person engages in an activity that is pleasurable but cannot stop doing it, even to the detriment of everyday living (such as work, hobbies, family time, finances, etc.), and health and wellbeing suffer as a result, this behaviour would be considered as an addiction.”
Addiction can be of different types. Some among them are very common to us, like- alcohol consumption, substance abuse, gambling, etc. In recent ages, with more advancement in people’s lives, development in technologies, and digitalization of everything, addiction is arising in several other forms, among which probably the most threatening and hazardous one is Mobile addiction.
Not only that mobile addiction has detrimental effects like other previous addictions, but it brings with it some other kind of threats that are completely new and almost impossible to deal with.

Smartphones, the necessary evil:-

  With the advent of smartphones around 2007-08, everything was changed. It transformed our daily lives with the blessings of technology. From listening to music to making bank transactions, calling out a cab, or sending emails, it made several important works done in a swipe of the finger. Mobile phones were stopped being considered as only a device for telecommunication and gained the power to do much more. As time goes on, technologies evolved, and that transfigured smartphones into as powerful and elegant as never before. Now people can talk to his/her friend living 100 miles away face-to-face through video calls, can capture high-resolution images, create and edit all the important documents for education or businesses, binge-watch movies or TV shows, and surf the internet to gather knowledge about anything and can do multiple other things.

How AI has changed the game:- 

Artificial Intelligence is an umbrella term in Computer science, that includes technologies, databases, and programs performing tasks with intelligence equivalent to or sometimes more than human intelligence. As AI gradually developed and incorporated more advanced technologies into it, it became the largest beast in the world of the internet controlling almost everything.
  Machine Learning is another sword of AI that analyze users’ past experiences, activities, and interests and process that data to identify patterns which is unique for each user. What you browse or watch will be saved in the systems and will be used later to make your personal experience better and more alluring, all thanks to machine learning. Here comes another term into play, ‘Filter Bubble’.
Filter Bubble is a state of intellectual isolation that results from personal web history, location, and past click-behaviour processed by the website algorithm where the algorithm selects of its own, what the particular user would prefer to see. In a podcast, Guillaume Chaslot, a former Google engineer who worked on the YouTube recommendation engine, told about how ‘bubble filters’ are using AI to increase total viewing time and bringing social and political dangers on the other hand.

How mobile phones have become a new drug?

  We all are known to the fact that drug abuse is a lethal form of addiction, that gradually draws the victim towards psychiatric problems and health hazards, even death. Smoking is also a form of addiction, where Nicotine plays the game. It is a stimulant for our nervous system along with being carcinogenic to the body.
Mobile phones also create similar effects in our brain arousing pleasure and causing harmful effects both in the short and long term, as other addictions do. The effects of these devices, specifically on our body, may not be so direct and dangerous but it affects our mental as well as social wellbeing to a greater extent. Especially when the teenagers and young adults are the most affected, (who are not mature enough to understand the ill-effects of it) then this situation stands as a more serious one.
Monopolizes our attention, but provides value at the same time? Is it an all-or-nothing game?
 Considering the useful side of mobile phones, we cannot label them to be completely harmful and avoidable substances, as we can do to the other addictive substances, and here lies the biggest tragedy. It is surely an indispensable part of our daily lives, doing many important tasks in seconds. Now and then we come in contact with our phone and if then we get trapped by the powerful and addictive AI systems of the internet, lucrative design of apps, games, and even the UI (User Interface) of the phone itself, there we are bound to waste our time and energy for a long period.
The Psychology behind mobile addition:-
  In the case of drugs, there is a thing called ‘Withdrawal syndrome’, which is also seen in the case of mobile or social media addiction. The ‘kick’ we get while playing games or by getting virtual likes and appreciation in social media or consuming content from the internet, that lures our brain to do that again and again and creates an uneasy feeling, mental disturbance, anger, depression, and many other adverse responses if we are unable to get that in any way.
Psychologists say that there are several chemicals, called neurotransmitters, that are acting in our brain and some of them are responsible for us to do that. One such very important chemical is ‘Dopamine’. It acts as the driving force in our brain’s reward circuitry. It works in various ways, like—
  • In social media we all tend to present ourselves as perfect beings, to get appreciation from other people. Those virtual likes give us a sense of reward (dopamine secretion in the brain), that in reality has no actual value and in most cases is fake. 
  • Scrolling through the internet we see numerous interesting contents to watch, that can raise your dopamine level in the brain. According to our personal preferences, the strong AI (developed by expert psychoanalysts) creates a unique universe of information for each of us.
  • Games also play a huge role in developing an addiction. They are developed in such a way that will compel people to continue playing, by giving rewards after crossing each level, which in turn, boosts your dopamine secretion and create a sense of achievement and satisfaction.
  • Notifications are actually very alluring. They stimulate our minds as if some rewards are waiting for us. Psychologists have found that in many cases the anticipation of something new has arrived (reminded by the tune of notification) is more powerful than the reward itself (the mail or text). 
In many other ways like these, the world of the internet and technology have hacked our brains. Dopamine creates a unique sense of pleasure and our brain is programmed in such a way that it craves to get that experience again and again. it’s very difficult to get out of this and in recent times, with more and more digitalization, marketing strategies of tech companies, easy-to-use tools, and their eye-catchy design and animations make people more prone to be addicted to it.
After reading up to this, if you’re feeling discouraged, then let me tell you that there is hope. In the past also, humankind has come out of many dreadful situations, be it a pandemic, an economical breakdown, or even a natural disaster. Some problems were completely novel for that time also, but people overcame those only because they have pondered about the root cause of the problems and approached an advanced solution.

How to cure this problem?

 After consulting with many authors, specialists and professionals, either physically or virtually, I have discovered several ways to curb this problem and have organized it into a format so that it becomes easy for people to understand & follow them. These are not the only ways but these are the best ways I have realized consulting numerous reliable sources and can be trusted upon.
If you keenly observe, you’ll get two main hindrances in the way of stopping it completely, i.e.--
  1. The generation of the parents are not used to these smart devices, so they cannot guide the children practically step by step to avoid getting addicted and fail to address the root cause of mobile addiction. They can tell them not to use mobile too much but that is not enough as it is a necessary evil that cannot be abandoned completely.
  2. In today’s age, the majority of people and especially teenagers are involved in some sort of addictive works on mobile like- playing video games, using social media, scrolling through YouTube, etc. So, to be able to involve and interact with them and to follow the trend the other children are also following the same route. The affected people draw others to their level eventually. 
It’s always said that “Precaution is better than cure” and this saying has an important role in our story also.

Precaution for Mobile addition:- 

At a young age, an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which is related to making decisions, is not well developed to understand what will be the consequences of these addictions. At that age, exposure to these devices can be a dreadful start for these addictions to happen. They will have no idea how dangerous the consequences can be, they only will find these devices fascinating and engage in them. Sometimes, parents also give their children mobiles so that they do not disturb the parents or simply because they nag for it.
It is highly advised to the parents not to allow their child to access these devices unless it is very necessary, and in that case too for a limited time only. Keep aside addiction, the radiation generated from these devices can damage their brain cells and can cause even cancer in children under a certain age.

Remedy for Mobile addition:- 

  1. Increase your understanding- As a user, be aware of the potential risks of smartphones and social media. Get to know the basics of this digital world and how the business companies operate them to increase the number of their consumers that, in turn, can harm you physically, mentally, and socially.
  2. Choose the Right Company- Indulge with the people who have clarity of mind, knowledge, and good thought process. Listen to people who are talking about these problems and their doable solutions. If you are surrounded by people who have big dreams in life and they are working towards it then you can follow their lifestyles and habits and see how they are productive on their own. Also, follow such persons who have achieved greatness in life and learn how their journey was, what their habits were and how they used to think and derive solutions to problems. Similarly, try to avoid people who are indulged in such things or at least try consciously to avoid being influenced by their behaviours that lead you to become an addict.
  3. Time is Running- A sense of urgency can fight the spell in which we enter unknowingly while using a mobile phone. We all have works to do, complete tasks, give time to relationships, and also take some time for ourselves. Becoming an addictive user of these devices harms all these things which are actually important to our life. So, after waking up in the morning, instead of checking your phone, try to remember your tasks for the day and keep that in mind that you have to complete them timely. Remember that passing time scrolling through Facebook or watching random videos on YouTube will not add any value to your life, rather will take your precious time and affect your daily works and relationships adversely.
  4. Consciousness- Being aware of your mind and how it works can let you know when you’re actually getting involved in these things. Meditation is an excellent way to achieve the strength of mind and it is acknowledged by renounced doctors, psychologists, mentalists, and other professionals also. Know the consequences of your action and its effect on both your short-term and long-term mental health. Learn how peace is being disrupted in your daily life, how relations are getting worsened, and how your potential is being suppressed continuously. Take necessary actions to restore them.
  5. Use the Internet for Benefit- Several contents are available on the internet that is teaching us how to train ourselves not to be indulged in any kind of addiction, how to be a conscious thinker. If you are suffering from downtimes, going through problems or heartbreaks, firstly know that you’re not alone who is going through these things, everyone has their times of sorrow. Secondly, try consulting people about those situations and how to come out of them, watch contents that are educative, and talk about how you can solve those problems of your own.
  6. A Message to the Parents- It is of immense importance that parents do not rebuke their child & sit with them to discuss with them the problem to make them understand the consequences of this addiction. Every problem has its unique solution. Children usually don’t have the maturity to understand how spending hours with mobile can affect them in the long run, they only see the instant enjoyment that they get at that time. In that case, parents should try to educate themselves about these technologies, learn the modern remedies and how those can be implemented. 
Another side that should be considered is that children should be encouraged in several other activities like- sports, meditation, exercise, yoga, etc., that are enjoyable and at the same time, promotes mental and physical well-being also. Don’t over-burden them with studies, career tension, competitive mentality, and the fears of the future, so that they shouldn’t have to seek peace and relaxation in a mobile, that in turn can harm them in several ways. Make children realize that life is actually very beautiful and has plenty of things to do, rather than just spending time with the mobile.
In the end, one thing we should all consider is that digital media, electronics, and the internet are intertwined with our lives and we cannot exempt them completely. So, we should rather try to learn the sustainable use of it. We should learn to use our time with the mobile in watching content that is relevant for our growth and where our mind is working and is compelled to think consciously. Driving the maximum benefit from these but remaining unaffected from the adverse side of it should be our motto to avoid being a victim of Mobile Addiction.

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Brishti Chakraborty
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