People who use smartphones in excess may experience personal, social and workplace problems, warns new research.
In the study, participants who identified themselves as “addicts” and “fanatics” exhibited signs that could indicate depression, social isolation, social anxiety, shyness, impulsivity and low self-esteem.
“Our smartphones have turned into a tool that provides short, quick, immediate satisfaction, which is very triggering,” said Isaac Vaghefi, Assistant Professor at Binghamton University-State University of New York.
“Our neurons get fired and dopamine is being released, and over time this makes us acquire a desire for quick feedback and immediate satisfaction. This process also has contributed to developing shorter attention spans and being more and more prone to boredom,” Vaghefi said.
The umbrella term “technology addiction” refers to addictive behaviour related to social media, excessive texting, information overload, online shopping, gambling, video gaming, online pornography and overall smartphone usage.
For the study, the researchers surveyed 182 college students and asked them to report their daily routine of smartphone usage.
Based on the analysis of the responses, they classified the user as one of the following types — thoughtful, regular, highly engaged, fanatic and addict.
Seven per cent identified as “addicts” and 12 per cent identified as “fanatics.”
Both groups experience personal, social and workplace problems due to a compulsive need to be on their smartphones, according to the study.
Females were most likely to exhibit susceptibility to addiction, the study said.
“While self-identified ‘addict’ users were in the minority, I predict technology addiction will increase as technology continues to advance and application, game and gadget developers find new ways to ensure users’ long term engagement with technology,” Vaghefi said.
The researchers said that if you constantly check your smartphone, even when it does not ring or vibrate, or you get paranoid when the smartphone is not with you, seeking professional help might be a good idea.
Moreover, if you use technology as a way of escaping problems or relieving feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression, or you ignore what is happening in real time in favour of what is happening virtually, you might then be a right candidate to seek professional help, the researchers said.