I read a lot. If I’m away from my computer I read on my iPhone. My wife sometimes complains when I’m paying too much attention to my phone and not enough to what she’s saying. Come to find out that is very common. A couples therapist with 25-years of experience reports that the biggest new cause of friction in relationships is the smart phone.
The biggest change I’ve seen in relationships is the damn smartphone: texting, internet, instant communication. Smartphones have caused more upheaval than anything I’ve seen in my career. We’ve normalized them being intrusive and taking precedence when people are lying in bed, playing Wordle or scrolling through TikTok rather than talking to each other.
And we’ve gotten used to communication being instantaneous when a healthy relationship requires you to slow down and listen to each other. But our lives don’t really allow for that; especially if you have young children, it’s often go, go, go.
Indeed, excessive smartphone use is even associated with health problems in adolescents and young adults.
The effects of excessive use of computer screens and smartphones are raising serious concerns among health and educational authorities due to negative effects of such use in children and adolescents.
The main factors predicting excessive smartphone use were being female, preoccupation, conflict, and use for ubiquitous trait whereas the protective factor was use for learning.
Excessive use of smartphones was correlated with impairment in the function of the family and relationship with friends, impulsiveness, and low self-esteem in South Korean adolescents.
About a week ago the U.S. Surgeon General issued a press release about the negative effects of social media on youth, much of which is tailored to smartphones. In May the state of Montana banned the use of TikTok, a social media app used almost exclusively on smartphones. Tiktok has created some harmful, even criminal behaviors in young people, who record outlandish antics in hopes their videos would go viral. For example, one TikTok challenge taught adolescents how to steal Korean cars, many of which recorded their escapades in stolen Kia and Hyundai cars.
Public health experts even claim some people become addicted to their smartphone.
Smartphone addiction is a serious mental health issue impacting millions of users worldwide. While this phenomenon is often associated with young people this type of addiction affects almost any demographic and can seriously affect mental well-being. From poor sleep quality to heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, smartphone addiction can take a huge toll. Mental health providers need to be aware of the potential issues associated with the overuse of smartphones so that they can help their clients identify, manage, and overcome the addiction.
Scientists worry that smartphones may even affect brain development.
Even before the pandemic, the average American adult spent about 3 hours and 30 minutes a day using mobile internet in 2019, an increase of about 20 minutes from a year earlier, according to measurement company Zenith.
Although there is not yet clear evidence that smartphones have a long-term negative effect on the brain, health experts are concerned that excessive use can be harmful—especially to children whose brains are not yet fully developed.
For example, research has shown that smartphones may adversely affect cognition (but more study is needed to understand the connection). Cognition is the process of acquiring and applying knowledge through thought, experiences and the senses.
A study in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research found that cognitive capacity was significantly reduced whenever a smartphone is within reach, even when the phone is off.
With smartphones, you no longer need to memorize a phone number or find your way around town using a map—your smartphone does these things for you. Research shows this overreliance on your phone can lead to mental laziness.
Modern connectedness also could be rewiring our brains to constantly crave instant gratification.
Then there are the negative effects smartphones have on your career (and your education). When I began my career making personal phone calls at work was frowned on, especially among hourly employees. Nowadays personal calls are common and almost impossible for supervisors to police. Your phone should probably be left in your purse or in your desk because it reduces productivity. One writer had this to say:
Everywhere I turn it seems, there are people on their phones catching a quick look at their most recent notification or posting?
In restaurants, shops, garages, petrol stations, newsagents, hospitals.
When a phone was just a phone we never had these problems.
When Apple invented the smartphone Steve Jobs did not really foresee the future of as most people assume. He really wanted the iPhone 3 to be primarily a really good phone (which the iPhone 3 really wasn’t). His engineers were mainly afraid phone manufacturers would realize they could put an MP3 player in their phones and make the highly successful Apple iPod media player useless. Nobody anticipated the public health concerns mobile phones with built-in computers would create.