Smartphones are like cocaine for kids, says a new study. Five years ago, this claim might have seemed like an exaggeration, but sadly these days it doesn’t sound very outrageous.
We previously took a closer look at nomophobia or no-mobile-phone phobia. Those with this condition desperately need to have their mobile phone within reach at all times. Even finding oneself in an area with poor signal or running out of battery can cause fear in those with nomophobia.
Though this is a fairly new phenomenon, more and more studies are backing its claims.
Smartphones are like cocaine because they also affect the way the brain works, says study
Smartphones are like cocaine because they alter brain activity, causing a surge in happy hormones. This makes it addictive! | Image source: Shutterstock
Smartphones — more specifically, our reliance on them — can interfere with real life experiences. Yes, we need smartphones to do errands, to be informed or to be entertained, but mums and dads should know that being phone distracted as a mum or dad can affect a child’s mental and emotional development.
A study by the University of Maryland likens smartphone addiction to being hooked on cocaine. Cocaine is an illegal drug, which works as a stimulant. When a person uses this highly addictive substance, they experience a sudden jolt of energy and pleasure. The “high” they get from being constantly connected to the internet, specifically social media, rivals that of drug use.
Once the brain senses a dopamine or “happy hormone” spike, the person instantly feels a surge of happiness. Naturally, it’s tough to kick a bad habit that makes you feel extremely good.
College-aged kids are extremely dependent or “addicted” to media consumption, says the study. This is true across the world, asserts the research. Kids today are growing up dependent on devices, on having a stable internet connection, to get through every single day.
More worrying still is that those seeking help to treat internet addiction are getting younger and younger.
Smartphones are like cocaine, this is not hard to believe. This comparison is worrying enough, right? But this isn’t just the way smartphones affect brain function.
Smartphones are like cocaine, but their effects go beyond giving users a high
1. Smartphone addiction messes with your sleep cycle
Being hooked on your phone doesn’t just keep you up at night, its effects extend to when you actually try to sleep. The light smartphones emit affects your sleep cycle.
Rest is important, especially for growing kids. So minimising screen time can help address sleep problems, too.
2. Smartphone addiction can cause anxiety
Image source: iStock
Kids and parents are constantly flooded with information and stimulation. And kids don’t just love surfing the net, they love playing games on phones as well!
If a smartphone-addicted child or adult disconnects from the internet for even less than a day, it can cause feelings of frustration and increase anxiety.
3. Smartphone addiction can cause poor attention span
How long do you stay on a website before switching to another tab or page? Because there is such a wealth of information online, we often feel too restless to stay on one activity for very long.
4. Smartphone addiction can make you a ‘lazy thinker’
Image source: iStock
Even though the internet has practically every bit of information about everything, we tend to rely on it too much, even when it comes to forming our own opinions.
For impressionable kids, what others say or share online greatly influences their worldview. As parents, it’s up to you to control the media they consume. Raising an independent thinker is not impossible.
5. Smartphone addiction can hinder healthy emotional development
It’s not just the way kids think that is affected by smartphone addiction. It can also influence the way kids feel.
Science Daily says that digital addiction can cause emotional problems, particularly “depression, anxiety, insomnia, and impulsivity.”
How do you prevent smartphone addiction in your home, mums and dads? Let us know in the comments below!
Sources: BBC News, CBS News, CNN, Elements Behavioral Health
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