MOBILE ADDICTION IN TEENS AND TWEENS

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Group of young hipster friends playing with smartphone with mutual disinterest towards each other - Modern situation of technology interaction in alienated lifestyle - Internet wifi connection

 

There was a time where we had to walk a long way to reach a phone booth and wait for our turn to speak to our loved ones or friends. It used to be even more difficult to contact anybody staying abroad. We had to keep ourselves awake till late night to contact due to a difference in time zones. The land lines in the fixed phone booths were the means of communication in those days.

The invent and evolution of mobile phones

The communication gadgets being invented for communication evolved continuously to take the shape of ‘mobile phones’ which are used extensively around the world. The current revolution in technology has made it very easy to contact anybody, anytime in any part of the world. Further, the advent of new generation smart mobile phones has enhanced and diversified its usage. People use smartphones for professional/personal (banking, news, weather, sports, google maps, taking photos, reading books, using a calendar/clock), socialising (Facebook, WhatsApp) and entertainment (playing games, watching television, shopping) purposes. Thus, the duration and dependency of individuals on mobile phones have increased.

Mobile phones: The ‘status factor’ for teens and tweens

For most of the adults, a cell phone is a ‘need’ while, for children, especially teens and tweens mobile is an ‘identity’ factor. Teens believe that their status enhances in their peer group, depending on the appearance, features and accessories used for their mobiles.

According to a survey, currently, Indian teens are driving Smartphone’s market in India. The use of smartphones between the age group 16-18yrs has increased from 5% in 2012 to 25% in 2014.  The features of smartphones are similar to that of computers and the internet. In this context, teens use mobiles for social networking (Facebook, Instagram, snap chat, etc.), enhance their skills in reading and thinking (e.g. reading blogs or express their opinion through blogs or twitters) and as a safety device especially during emergencies.

Nevertheless, excessive use of cell phones causes individuals to get addicted to them.

Mobile addiction:  An emerging ‘technological addiction’

Addiction’ means a continuous use of something for the sake of comfort/relief/stimulation which often cause cravings when it is absent. Mobile addiction is a ‘technological addiction’, a subset of behavioural addiction that is defined as a “non-chemical (behavioural) addictions involving human-machine interaction”. This addiction may lead to various physical and psychological issues in teens.

This addiction may lead to various physical and psychological issues in teens.

Effect on Physical health include:

  • Continuous gazing may lead to computer vision syndrome (strain in the eyes due to excess exposure to computer) and headache.
  • Constantly looking at the phone in a bent-forward position may lead to stiffening of neck and back.
  • Constant messaging or typing may lead to tendon injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Mobile addiction can reduce physical activities leading to obesity.
  • According to a recent study, mobile users under the age of 20 have a high risk of developing glioma (cancer of nervous system).

Effect on Psychological health include:

  • Excessive use of mobile may lead to inattentiveness.
  • Responding constantly to messages and checking if there are any new messages till late night affect the sleep cycle.
  • Radio waves emitted through mobiles may reduce melatonin which reduces sleep.
  • Unprotected adolescent sexual activity increases due to easy access to porn websites.
  • Mobile phone use cause various mental disorders particularly like depression, anxiety.
  • Constant use of mobiles reduces social interactions making the individuals lonely and depressed.

Consequences of mobile addiction:

  • Most of the teens are not independent of buying a mobile or paying a mobile rental fee. This may cause interpersonal entanglement of money leading to aggression and violent behaviours.
  • Close interpersonal contacts may result in ‘sexting’ (sending or receiving of sexually suggestive images, messages, or video via a cell phone) with potential partners.
  • ‘Sexting’ and easy access to ‘porn’ videos may increase the chances of unprotected sex and its associated complications in teens.

Your smart phones are smart enough to enslave you. But you be smarter not to get entangled in them!

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