YOU may read this article on your smartphone. If you’re not using your smartphone, it is most likely being charged, but within reach.
According to the Internet Users Survey conducted by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission last year, smartphones remain the most popular means for users to access the Internet, with nine of 10 Internet users going online using their handheld devices.
The use of smartphones increased by 3.7 per cent compared with 89.4 per cent in 2016, and these figures are projected to increase.
Our smartphone is the first thing we look at when we wake up and the last thing before we go to sleep.
Many of us can’t go five minutes without checking our devices or feel anxious if we lose them or leave them at home. It has become common in casual conversation to refer to such behaviour as an addiction.
There is something you may not realise. Our overreliance on the global positioning system (GPS) may affect our navigational skills.
Before the use of GPS, we would try to remember routes and learn to read and understand maps when we wanted to go somewhere new. But now, without an Internet connection, we may get lost.
In Nature, a weekly science journal, Roger McKinlay refers to navigation as a “use-it-or-lose-it” skill. He says if we rely on machines to find our way, we might lose our natural sense of navigation.
Furthermore, many people fail to realise that addiction to smartphones can have a negative effect on a person’s thoughts, behaviours, tendencies, feelings and sense of wellbeing.
When we compare smartphone addiction to other types of addiction, such as alcohol, drug and gambling, they share similarities.
Feelings of anxiety and panic can be triggered when the addiction is not satisfied, and it contributes to poor attention and control.
A study by researchers from the University of Illinois, the United States, found that people who experience depression and anxiety often turn to their smartphones to cope or distract themselves from negative feelings.
In the long term, this could make these people more vulnerable to mental health issues.
In addition, excessive smartphone use may cause an impaired ability to remember, a lack of creative thinking and reduced attention span.
But how much smartphone use is too much? No one has an answer. More and more smartphones have a function that lets users check how much time they have spent on each application.
It helps users understand their habits and use of applications.
In addition, users can turn off notifications and set a reminder for the maximum time spent on applications.
To curb smartphone addiction, we should start using this function.
Other methods to reduce smartphone addiction would be for parents to set a daily or weekly session where no phones are allowed during family time.
It is undeniable that smartphones connect us with friends and family, but nothing beats face-to-face communication and connection between humans.
We should be in control of our smartphones for the convenience they provide and not let them take over our lives.