The Link Between Emotional Instability and Smartphone Addiction
Thu, October 21, 2021

The Link Between Emotional Instability and Smartphone Addiction

Web surfing, tweeting, sending texts, and checking emails may have made it convenient for people to communicate and access information, yet they can also trigger phone addictions when done incessantly / Photo by: Ivan Kruk via 123RF

 

Web surfing, tweeting, sending texts, and checking emails may have made it convenient for people to communicate and access information, yet they can also trigger phone addictions when done incessantly. A 2018 study from Nottingham Trent University and the University of Derby even found that people who struggle with their mental or emotional health are more likely to intensively use their smartphone.

Smartphone Addiction as a Form of Mood Repair

Researchers from the said study explained that as people experience problems, such as depression, anxiety, family problems, and stress, they are emotionally unstable. As a way of relief, they end up exhibiting problematic smartphone behavior. They start to spend more time on social media to check other people’s posts and pictures and tend not to engage in discussions. Real positive social interaction is absent. Another study from Baylor University in Texas explained that people who can’t seem to put down their phones are more likely to have temperamental behavior or be moody. Using their phones is their attempt at “mood repair,” the scientists said.

Baylor University researchers recruited 346 men and women between 19 and 24 to assess their level of smartphone addiction and individual personalities. The highlight of their study was the connection between cellphone addiction and attention impulsiveness or the inability to concentrate on the present topic.

Loss of empathy has also been found as one of the ill effects of being constantly tethered to the device. Clinical social worker Chantale Denis, who was not involved in the two studies, said via Arab international newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that cellphone usage breeds irresponsible behavior and lack of accountability. It can also impede people’s ability to effectively nurture social skills that are inherent to us, including being understanding, loving, caring, thoughtful, and kind.

Researchers from the said study explained that as people experience problems, such as depression, anxiety, family problems, and stress, they are emotionally unstable. As a way of relief, they end up exhibiting problematic smartphone behavior / Photo by: Tommaso Altamura via 123RF

 

Emotional Disabilities

Virtual reality gaming developer Psychsoftpc’s CEO Tim Lynch, who has a background in the study of the psychology of computers and intelligent machines, also said instant gratification has become a constant expectation both online and offline. People expect that they can get the entertainment and information they need on-demand, just a click away. It socializes people into a pattern that they can also carry in their “non-tech communication lives.” We grow impatient, tend to use shorter sentences, expect quick answers, get straight to the point rather than engage in small talk, and ignore the feelings of other people. This is why kids are encouraged to limit the time they spend using smartphones and to “go play outside.”

Smartphone Users: Statistics

In the United States alone, the hours spent per day engaging with digital media is 3.6 hours for mobile use, 2 hours for desktop or laptop use, and 0.7 hours for other connected devices per adult user in 2018. This is an increase in the daily hours spent with digital media compared to the data in 2017, which was 3.3 hours for mobile use, 2.1 for desktop or laptop use, and 0.6 hours for other connected devices. The data is based on global technology investment company BOND’s Internet Trends 2019.

Database company Statista moreover forecasts the number of smartphone users worldwide to reach 3.5 billion this year and 3.8 billion in 2021. The countries with the highest number of smartphone users include China, the United States, and India. The statistics are somewhat alarming, considering that this may mean more people are at risk of depression because of smartphone dependency. Understanding the connection between poor psychological outcomes and smartphone dependency is significant for determining the best ways to address the problem and improve people’s well-being.

Improving Emotional Health

Practicing self-awareness is one way to improve one’s emotional health, licensed clinical social worker Hilary Jacobs Hendel recommends. “We cannot change what is not in awareness,” she emphasized. She believes that the kinder and more patient people are to themselves, the better they will feel. Such a kind of self-compassion will then compel them to expect good or better treatment from other people around them.

Hendel, who is also the author of the book “It’s Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self,” said that emotion education has the power to transform depression and anxiety and help bolster one’s confidence. One way that Hendel thinks technology can improve emotional health is to listen to audiobooks or podcasts about emotional health topics during a commute. There is no need to do anything differently but simply learn about emotions. There may be no formal education on emotions nor do people learn in school the skills to build emotional resilience and health, but it is possible to learn our emotions. In time, we learn and grow to embrace our authentic self too.

Technology will continue to be more prevalent in society as it also brings benefits, such as education and productivity. Finding the right balance is the key so it will remain a tool instead of an addiction.

Virtual reality gaming developer Psychsoftpc’s CEO Tim Lynch, who has a background in the study of the psychology of computers and intelligent machines, also said instant gratification has become a constant expectation both online and offline / Photo by: Katarzyna Białasiewicz via 123RF