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Dependence on cell phone use and its consequences

Dependence on cell phone use and its consequences


In a highly technological era, cell phones have become real everyday tools for many people. With greater emphasis on teenagers and young adults, the cell phone serves both for work and leisure, and sometimes as a way of escaping reality. If there is no care, it can quickly become an object of dependency and lead to health problems.

Cell Phone Use
©Jonas Leupe/Unsplash

Considered by some to be an epidemic of the 21st century, the continuous use of electronic devices is a reality. In relation to cell phones, the seriousness of the problem regarding their use lies not only in the physical consequences but also in the psychological consequences. Dependence on cell phone use stems from several factors and the negative effects are already beginning to be widely recognized.

In this article, VillaRamadas explores how this dependence can arise, what are the main consequences, and if there is any way to avoid it.

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When does cell phone use become dependence?

Although excessive smartphone use is not yet recognized as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) or the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10), many aspects of this behavior are similar to other behavioral addictions. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) recognized the gaming disorder as the only behavioral addition. Other behavioral addictions, such as shopping addiction, internet gaming, sex addiction, among others, were included in impulse disorders.

There is still no consensus on the definition of smartphone addiction or smartphone addiction, so problematic smartphone use is the most frequently used term.

In this article, when we refer to smartphone addiction, smartphone addiction or cell phone addiction, we are referring to this problematic use of smartphones.

A dependency happens whenever there is an overuse of something. Here in this case we refer to the excessive use of the cell phone. The constant need to have the equipment in hand, to check notifications, social networks, messages, etc., are some of the symptoms present.

woman using cell phone
© Pexels

The symptoms start to get worse when the body manifests itself, in a negative way, in the absence of the cell phone. In many cases, dependence on cell phone use is notorious when the simple fact of losing the network or battery creates situations of anxiety and/or constant stress.

In some cases the feeling of dependence almost reaches the level of a phobia, for the simple reason of being away from the object. This fear of being away from the cell phone and without connectivity is currently known by the term nomophobia.

The exaggerated use of mobile devices can also lead to lies about the time of use, loss of sense of time, and the preference for using the object in social events over conversations, for example.

Physical consequences of dependence on cell phone use

Smartphone Dependency
© Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Knowing that the absence of a cell phone can create crises of anxiety or exacerbated stress, it is easy to recognize that there can be physical consequences. Although it may sound unlikely, keep in mind that dependence on mobile phone use, in cases of impediment of use, can cause:

  • Extreme fear;
  • Anxiety and/or stress (generating panic attacks, for example);
  • Tachycardia;
  • Nervousness;
  • Lack of concentration;
  • Feeling of suffocation;
  • Posture problems,
  • Among others.

Psychological consequences of dependence on cell phone use

The daily use of a cell phone nowadays presupposes practically unlimited access to the internet, and it is in this aspect that a large part of the psychological problems generated by the problematic use of smartphones reside. With social networks in great notoriety, the cell phone is a means of information and keeping up to date within a circle of friends, but it is also prone to create uncomfortable situations and trigger other disorders.

Social Networks
The fact that social networks are easily accessible through a simple smartphone can contribute to consequences in terms of mental disorders. Its constant use can lead to isolation, depression, eating disorders, among others, due to constant comparison. © Tracy Le Blanc/Pexels

Constant cell phone use, and in particular constant checking of social networks, can cause:

  • Depression – encouraged by cases of cyberbullying where victims suffer threats or ridicule, or by mere comparison with what is seen on social networks;
  • Development of aggressive behaviors and thoughts;
  • Difficulty in distinguishing reality from virtual;
  • Irritability and mood swings;
  • Among others.

Is it possible to avoid cell phone addiction?

There is no right answer to this question, as each person can develop lifelong habits that lead to dependence. However, you can follow some guidelines to mitigate potential addition behaviors:

  • Try not to always have your cell phone in your hand;
  • Establish rules and limits for the whole family – when to use and for how long;
  • Not responding to notifications during moments of social interaction;
  • Do not use as a distraction tool in a social context.

These behaviors must be especially taken into account when educating the youngest about their use, thus avoiding future problems.

Kid with smartphone
It is normal for the youngest to start using the cell phone at an early age, but if educated in a structured way, the probability of avoiding situations of dependence is greater. © Ron Lach/Pexels

Problematic cell phone use can arise at any age, but nowadays it is in adolescence that a large age group develops this type of dependence. It is therefore important to educate children and young people about the negative aspects, showing that use is not prohibited, but that it must be moderated and adjusted to healthy use.

If you have someone in your closest circle who is too dependent on their cell phone, try to help them. If necessary, talk to us. Together with our specialized professional team, we can find solutions to avoid the worsening of problematic cell phone use and the entry into a vicious cycle of insecurity and reclusion.


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