Breezy opens her eyes groggily, the room awash in darkness. Rai is still asleep beside her, one arm reaching out towards the wall, and one leg aggressively thrust over the covers. Rai seems to be immune to any sort of cold draft or impulse to stay warm in an otherwise cold environment, much to her mother’s nagging worry. She grabs her phone and looks at the time then sets it back down, covers Rai, rolls over to her side, grabbing her phone again and begins to check Facebook, Pinterest, Email, and Instagram. She can hear her husband out in the living room rustling around, packing lunch. She very carefully sits up, tucks Rai in (again), and slogs out to the living room, bringing her phone with her. On goes the baby monitor, on goes the cell phone. She sits on the couch, head curved in an awkward angle, and stays on her phone until Rai wakes up. She then continues to keep it on her at all times, as if the missing of a text or Facebook post renders her a negligent human being. She checks it constantly, the machine making soft enticing dings every few hours.
The definition of an obsession is, “the inability of a person to stop thinking about a particular topic or feeling a certain emotion without a high amount of anxiety. When obsessed, an individual continues the obsession in order to avoid the consequent anxiety.” Sound familiar? Cell Phone addiction has become an obsession: a disorder and disability, much like gambling. In fact, the similarities to gambling are startling. People gamble because of the Pavlov effect: a win creates a dopamine reaction in the brain, creating a good feeling: a neurological addiction. Similarly, when we get a buzz, ring, or vibration on our cell phone, it boosts our dopamine and keeps us in a stressful state of hyper vigilance ALL THE TIME so we don’t miss that shot of dope. (I know…I shouldn’t try to sound gangster)
Some of these statistics really made me want to throw my phone out the window…and then go run outside frantically snatching it back up, cradling it and looking for damage. I might have a problem.
Statistics on Cell Phone Addiction
1)Psychology Today stated that 40 % of Americans have an addiction. That was in 2015. I bet it’s even higher today. If you think you’re not one of them, reassess yourself.
2)91% of Gen-Ys took their phones to the bathroom with them (ew)
3)80% of 18 to 24-year-olds sleep with their phones right next to them. If they don’t have them close they report feeling separation anxiety. (that’s also a diagnosable condition) Many times this means the first and last thing they do in a day is on their phones – I’m guilty of this.
4) Speaking of which, 95% of people have stated that they text, browse the web, or watch TV in the hour before finally falling asleep. This messes with our sleep cycles and can cause health problems.
5)1 in 4 people do not silence their phones at night, and, you guessed it, will wake up during the night to check it if it makes a noise. That is really messing with the sleep cycle. As a breastfeeding mom I have to wake up a lot during the night. If I look at my phone, I tend to stay up at least an hour, because I can’t seem to fall back asleep.
6) 1 in 2 people (that’s 50%) say that if they wake up for no reason, they check their phones. Bam! sleep cycle interrupted. We really need to just keep those phones out of the bedroom.
7)Since our brains don’t multi-task very well, while we are using our phone we enter a different state. We see the world a different way, like through a camera lens instead of actively a part of the interaction of event.
If Breezy takes a picture of Rai doing something uber cute (let’s face it, she’s doing that 95% of the day) she then tends to review that photo, edit it, Instagram it then post it onto Facebook. A quick second turned into at least a 10 minute event. Rai has now been ignored for at least 10 minutes of play time. Maybe Rai is the one that wants to throw the phone out the window.
8)A study indicated that parents who spend more time with their phones have a greater tendency to shout at their children – wow. “HOLD ON I’M WRITING A WITTY RETORT ON FACEBOOK” They also report spending less time with their children. See point 8
9)An average person checks their phone 110 times/day, while the more addicted check their phones as much as 900 times/day. See what I mean about being hyper vigilant and stressed out?
10)1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.
11) Cell phone addiction ( which is a diagnosed disorder) can lead to other disorders like OCD, depression, insomnia, and anxiety. Oh and you will have withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit.
12)For every 100 hours that you spend talking on the phone, you increase the risk of brain cancer by as much as 5%. Wait, WHAT?
This is serious stuff. How do we combat it? I’m no psychologist, but I’ve made a goal list of sorts and I’m going to share it with you, to either use or to model after.
So now I’m going to talk right to my mom readers: how does a mom combat such an easy addiction? Acknowledgement, forethought and preparation. We have to first see and understand that we have a problem. If we justify or minimize the seriousness of this addiction, we will never find the strength to overcome it. Also, since it is such a widespread addiction, there is the subtle trap of feeling normal when we sit in a restaurant checking Facebook posts during a lull in conversation.(yep I’m talking from experience) Worse yet, if we are a stay at home mom, we have a great risk of isolation and lonliness: things that social media seems to fix: trust me, nothing will compare to face to face human interaction.
Forethought is the easy part. If you really don’t think you have a problem, download some apps to track your regular usage. Cheeky is one that counts how many times in a day you unlock your phone. Figure out what your triggers are. Do you jump up at the sound of a Facebook post? Do you get giddy over every spam email that hits your inbox? You know yourself better than anyone.
Preparation is just following through with all your forethinking. Deleting certain apps from your phone, picking a charging place in the house that is out of easy grabbing range, if you are still breastfeeding, you will be quick to realize that breastfeeding is prime phone time: what else are you supposed to do for thirty minutes to an hour? You decide. I’m going to get a really good book, one I can sink my teeth into. Ok rant over.
What about you? Do you have any thoughts on cell phone addiction or maybe you have som super fantastic ideas on how to counter it. Put down ideas of your own in the comments! Let’s help each other out.