World War Four – Cell Phones vs. The World

ImageCell Phone Addiction

It may seem a slight bit drastic to describe the ever-increasing cell phone debacle as World War Four, but in my honest opinion, nothing seems more appropriate.  Over the past decade, the increase in cell phone usage has been drastic.  The age that children receive their first cell phone is lower than ever, and the amount of young adults who possess a smart phone is now higher than ever.  It has become almost essential in today’s society to own a cell phone.  Words like selfie have even been added to the dictionary because of their association with smart phones.

Everyone has one, so what’s the issue?

Unfortunately, with the increase of cell phones, comes with it various ramifications that not everyone is aware of.  Health concerns ranging from increased radiation exposure, short-term memory loss, damage to eyesight, and even cell phone addiction, are issues becoming more and more prevalent in today’s top news stories.  One of the main demographics being affected by this cell phone addiction is teens and young adults.  Take a look at the picture below that demonstrates just how shocking the statistics behind cell phone usage is.

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The Shocking Demographics of Cell Phone Use

So just how bad is it? Let the numbers speak for themselves.

A study conducted by Google this past summer demonstrated just how addicted people were to their phones.  An amazing 8 in 10 people claimed that they would not leave their home without their cell phone on their person.  Google has also claimed that a shocking 78% of cell phone users accessed social media from their cell phone at some point throughout the day.  80% of people not being able to even leave their home without their cell phones.. if this isn’t an addiction I’m not sure what is.

Apps.. What are they and what do they do?

This brings me to my next point.  Why are smart phones and cell phones just so addicting?  In my personal opinion, it’s because of what is on the phone that has everyone so interested.  Applications like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Vine have users obsessed over what’s going on around them.  I know at times I have suffered from something loosely known as “fomo” which stands for fear of missing out.  This fear might be based upon the constant need to check these various social facets to make sure we are not missing out on activities and updates made by our list of friends.  All of these cell phone based applications circulate pictures, videos, status updates, and more that can be accessed through a cell phone.  Teens and young adults have even been known to rate popularity and reputation off of these very applications.

It’s obvious that people who use these social media outlets have a purpose, but each person’s purpose differs ever so slightly.  It is very interesting to understand just why people flock so readily to these social media applications.  Harvard recently conducted a study to find out exactly why people were so emotionally attached and ready to share every detail of their lives over these various apps.  They were able to conclude that people associated shared experiences through pictures, videos, and other facets.  These shared experiences are perceived by the feeling of pleasure, much like we take pleasure in enjoying certain foods.  The addiction to these varying apps is centered around parts of the brain that perceive reward and enjoyment.  This helps to explain why so many people can’t go a day without checking their news feeds and application logs.

Alright so I might be addicted; how can I tell?

So you think you might just suffer from this so-called ‘cell phone addiction’ everyone is so concerned about.. how do you know for sure.  Although there is no actual disorder that can be diagnosed in this case, there are some tell-tale signs that indicate you could be spending just a little too much time with your device.  A study by the University of Washington worked to analyze people’s behavior who were classified as being ‘cell phone addicts’.  The four characteristics they concluded as being most relevant to this addiction are as follows:
Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 6.00.22 PM

I find it hard to believe that anyone who owns a cell phone hasn’t experienced one of these feelings at some point in their life.  And don’t feel bad if you can relate to any of these either, like I said before, this is a common and increasing problem!  Honestly, I would be lying if I said I had never experienced any of these, but that alone demonstrates just how much of a problem cell phones are becoming.

NikePlus

Don’t worry, it’s not all bad, I swear!

Although the issue of cell phone addiction is clearly quite negative, there are a few reasons to suggest cell phones can be positive if used correctly.  In recent years, the fitness and weight loss fad has been fluctuating throughout the country.  People are always looking for the newest way to shed a few pounds or tone up.  Cell phone apps like Instagram, NikePlus, and Calorie Counter are actually getting rave reviews in regards to weight loss and increased health among users.  There various apps are making it easier for users to document their workouts, make healthier food choices, and even understand how to do a proper sit up.

Instagram Fitness  Calorie Counter  Fitness App

Something else to think about is how cell phones and mobile devices are actually benefitting the medical field for their practical uses and abilities.  Think about how easy it would be to have a patient arrive at an Emergency Room and be able to instantly have access to their records and files via a mobile device.  This is now becoming a reality in modernized hospitals according to an article by Darell West.  He discusses how the increased use of patient data storage using mobile devices or tablet’s has the ability to cut down wait time and patient admittance by a huge percentage.  It’s also easy to imagine how fast doctor’s or nurses would have access to diagnostic information via instant access to the internet and specific databases.

Interestingly enough, there have also been studies conducted that indicate that mobile devices actually have the ability to stimulate and demonstrate increased brain activity.  Specifically, a study done at Harvard discussed how when cell phones were placed in proximity to the brain when turned on, there was an increase in glucose metabolism.  Having said that, researchers are not entirely sure what to make of these findings but they do conclude that stimulation is evident and is not all negative.

So what did we all learn?

In all honesty, it’s hard to walk away from a post like this being able to differentiate between the pros and cons of cell phones.  What is important is to understand that cell phones are what we make them.  We have the power to become addicts or to break the addiction.  Obviously this is coming off as a bit preachy, but let’s be realistic.  We live in a very privileged country today and there are more important things than having our faces glued to the screen of a cell phone.  I can’t count the amount of times I have been infuriated by someone who has a blatant disregard for cell phone etiquette, but at the same time I have been amazed at all of the things my cell phone can teach me.  I wish we could all go back to writing letters or talking on a house phone, but I’m afraid those days are long gone.  After educating myself more about cell phone addiction, I for one plan on leaving my cell phone at home more often in hopes to live life in the now, rather than through my cell phone.

If you aren’t convinced about the negative health effects of cell phones, watch this video so your eyes might be opened to the increasing overall negative effects cell phones can have to daily life.

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