If you told a friend that you dedicated four hours a day to your hobby, would he or she voice concern? I don’t know what hobby can healthily occupy four hours a day; that’s even excessive for exercise, meditation or eating vegetables. So why don’t we see it as a problem that many people spend four hours a day messing around on their smartphones? Perpetual smartphone use is becoming normalized in the United States and it’s beginning to look a lot like an addiction.
Believe it or not, smartphone use is climbing the list of most pervasive addictions in the United States, among all ages. According to a recent study: “smartphone owners in the U.S. typically check their phones 47 times a day.” We can all do the math: 47 times a day, assuming 2-5 minutes at a time: that’s 1.5 to 4 hours each day, for “regular” users. However, “addicted users spent twice as much time on their phone and launched applications much more frequently (nearly twice as often) as compared to the non-addicted user. Mail, Messaging, Facebook and the Web drove this use.” For folks more, shall we say, dedicated to their phones, that’s roughly 3-8 hours a day staring at the little rectangle.
Considering the evolution of technology over the last fifty years, never mind the transition from the flip-phone of 2002 to the pocket computer of right now, it’s worth a quick look back to the moon landing in 1969.
Tech Use: Then vs. Now
Technology was a sharp tool we could use to explore and learn more about the universe: women computing trajectory provided safe passage for astronauts to the moon and back. Computers designed to solve numeric problems took up entire rooms, calling for massive power sources and coolant.
Now, it’s all in our pocket. The smartphone has more than a million times the power of those room-sized behemoths: except, we’re not putting folks on the moon with it…nah, it’s mostly to check on our old high school crush’s Instagram and to find non-existent creatures at your local park. The smartphone is our constant companion. Check the weather, check your texts, check work email, check social media…whoops, I’m driving! Lookout! You get the picture: smartphones offer never-ending ways to escape and investigate.
Help is out there
Although “eighty percent of people check their phones within an hour and 35% do so within five minutes before going to bed or after getting up”, ways to limit your smartphone use are available. If you want an app that reminds you to limit your usage, there are many available. If you prefer to dig deeper and find out some of the mechanisms behind our smartphone use, you can investigate. If you aren’t sure you can change your smartphone habits on your own, you can get help. Collectively, we need to remind each other: technology is a tool: depending upon your line of work, you certainly don’t need a screwdriver for four hours each day, but if you’re stuck on your phone all day, you may be screwing yourself.
Help for Smartphone Addiction
References and Further Reading
Lee, H. S. (2017). Convergent Study of the Effect of University Students’ Addiction to Smartphones on Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy: Stress Level and Mental Health as Mediating Factors. Journal of the Korea Convergence Society, 8(1), 139-148.