Mobile phone overuse
Mobile phone overuse (or problem mobile phone use) is a dependence syndrome seen among certain mobile phone users. Some mobile phone users exhibit problematic behaviors related to substance use disorders. These behaviors can include preoccupation with mobile communication, excessive money or time spent on mobile phones, use of mobile phones in socially or physically inappropriate situations such as driving an automobile. Increased use can also lead to increased time on mobile communication, adverse effects on relationships, and anxiety if separated from a mobile phone or sufficient signal.
Overuse is often defined as a "dependence syndrome," which is the term used by the World Health Organisation (WHO Expert Committee, 1964) to replace addiction or habituation. This is categorised either as substance abuse, such as from psychoactive drugs, alcohol and tobacco under ICD-10, or a behavioral addiction, such as a mobile phone addiction.
Substance use disorders can be defined by 11 factors, according to the DSM-5, including: (1) use in larger quantities or for longer than initially intended, (2) a desire to cut down or control use, (3) spending a great deal of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the substance, (4) craving, (8) use in situations in which it is physically hazardous, (9) continued use of the substance despite adverse physical or psychological consequences associated with use, and (11) withdrawal symptoms.
Prevalence of mobile phone overuse depends largely on definition and thus the scales used to quantify a subject's behaviors. Two scales are in use, the 20-item self-reported Problematic Use of Mobile Phones (PUMP) scale, and the Mobile Phone Problem Use Scale (MPPUS), which have been used both with adult and adolescent populations. There are variations in the age, gender and percentage of the population affected problematically according to the scales and definitions used. The prevalence among British adolescents aged 11–14 was 10%. In India, addiction is stated at 39-44% for this age group. Under different diagnostic criteria, the estimated prevalence ranges from 0 to 38%, with self-attribution of mobile phone addiction exceeding the prevalence estimated in the studies themselves. The prevalence of the related problem of Internet addiction was 4.9-10.7% in Korea, and is now regarded as a serious public health issue.
Behaviors associated with mobile-phone addiction differ between genders. Women are more likely to develop addictive mobile phone behavior than men. Men experience less social stress than women and use their mobile phones less for social purposes. Older people are less likely to develop addictive mobile phone behavior because of different social usage, stress and greater self-regulation.
Over-use of mobile phones can affect social and psychological well-being and health.
There is an enormous impact of the mobile phone on contemporary society from a social scientific perspective. In his 2002 book Perpetual contact: mobile communication, private talk, public performance the author, James Katz, writes: "They [mobile phones] have transformed social practices and changed the way we do business, yet surprisingly we have little perception on their effect in our li[ves]."
Some people are replacing face-to-face conversations with cybernetic ones. Clinical psychologist Lisa Merlo says, "Some patients pretend to talk on the phone or fiddle with apps to avoid eye contact or other interactions at a party." In a survey made by Gazelle, "More than 25% of respondents reported that they 'almost always' use their smartphone while in a social setting such as during a meal or during a party. In addition, 58% said they use it 'usually' or 'occasionally' during these settings." Furthermore,
- 70% check their phones in the morning within an hour of getting up
- 56% check their phones before going to bed
- 48% check their phones over the weekend
- 51% constantly check their phones during vacation
- 44% reported they would feel very anxious and irritable if they did not interact with their phones within a week
This change on the conversation style from face-to-face to text based conversation has also been observed by Sherry Turkle. Her work cites connectivity as an important trigger of social behavior change regarding communication; therefore this adaptation of communicating would not be caused only by the cell phone as a device itself.
Other implications of cell phone use in mental health symptoms were observed by Thomée et al. in Sweden. This study found a relationship between report of mental health and perceived stress of participants' accessibility, which is defined as the possibility to be disturbed at any moment of day or night.
There is some evidence supporting the claim that excessive mobile phone use can cause or worsen health problems. Germs are everywhere, and considering the number of times people interact with their cellphone under different circumstances and places, germs are very likely to transfer from one place to another. Research from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine at Queen Mary in 2011 indicated that one in six cell phones is contaminated with fecal matter. Under further inspection, some of the phones with the fecal matter were also harboring lethal bacteria such as E. coli, which can result in fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. According to the article Mobile Phones and Nosocomial Infections, written by researchers at Mansoura University of Egypt, it states that the risk of transmitting the bacteria by the medical staff (who carry their cellphones during their shift) is much higher because cellphones act as reservoir for the bacteria to thrive.
Cancer, specifically brain cancer, and its correlation with phone use, is an ongoing investigation. There are many variables that affect the likelihood of hosting cancerous cells which include how long and how frequently people use their phones. There has been no definitive evidence linking cancer and phone use if used moderately, but the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization said in 2011 that radio frequency is a possible human carcinogen, based on heavy usage increasing the risk of developing glioma tumors — a common benign tumor, a rare but deadly form of cancer. Although a relationship has not been fully established, research is continuing based on leads from changing patterns of mobile phone use over time and habits of phone users. Low level radio frequency radiation has also been confirmed as a promoter of tumors. Minor acute immediate effects of radio frequency exposure have long been known such as Tinnitus or Microwave auditory effect which was discovered in 1962.
Studies show that users often associate using a mobile phone with headaches, impaired memory and concentration, fatigue, dizziness and disturbed sleep. These are all symptoms of radiation sickness. There are also concerns that some people may develop electrosensitivity or IEI-EMF from excessive exposure to electromagnetic fields.
Using a cell phone before bed can cause insomnia, according to a study by scientists from the Karolinska Institute and Uppsala University in Sweden and from Wayne State University in Michigan. The study showed that this is due to the radiation received by the user as stated, "The study indicates that during laboratory exposure to 884 MHz wireless signals, components of sleep believed to be important for recovery from daily wear and tear are adversely affected." Additional adverse health effects attributable to smartphone usage include a diminished quantity and quality of sleep due to an inhibited secretion of melatonin.
In 2014, 58% of World Health Organization states advised the general population to reduce radio frequency exposure below heating guidelines. The most common advice is to use hands-free kits (69%), to reduce call time (44%), use text messaging (36%), avoid calling with low signals (24%) or use phones with low specific absorption rate (SAR) (22%). In 2015 Taiwan banned toddlers under the age of two from using mobile phones or any similar electronic devices, and France banned WiFi from toddlers' nurseries.
There are concerns that some mobile phone users incur considerable debt, and that mobile phones are being used to violate privacy and harass others. In particular, there is increasing evidence that mobile phones are being used as a tool by children to bully other children.
There is a large amount of research on mobile phone use, and its positive and negative influence on the human's psychological mind and social communication. Mobile phone users may encounter stress, sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression, especially young adults. Consistent phone use can cause a chain reaction, affecting one aspect of a user's life and expanding to contaminate the rest. It usually starts with social disorders, which can lead to depression and stress and ultimately affect lifestyle habits such as sleeping right and eating right.
German psychotherapist and online addiction expert Bert te Wildt recommends using tools such as Offtime and Menthal to help prevent mobile phone overuse.
- Television addiction
- Underearners Anonymous
- Computer addiction
- Internet addiction disorder
- Video game overuse
- Mobile phones and driving safety
- De Quervain syndrome
- Mobile phone radiation and health
- Mobile phone § Health effects
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