Technology may have once put us on the moon but it has come even further since then and while we may have hoped for it to only be helpful, the invention of the smartphone says otherwise. Once used only to call people and also probably show off your status symbol, the smartphone is now pretty much your entire life. Whether it's emails you receive from work or the fact that you spend hours scrolling through social media apps, smartphones have taken over the world by storm.
A 2018 analytics report had shown that on average an Indian spends close to three hours on apps which means that they're glued to their phones every single day. We reach for our phones first thing in the morning and we glance at them at night before we sleep. All of this excessive use of smartphones has now started leading to 'smartphone stress'. Although it may seem like a made-up disorder, believe us when we say it is very much real and that you might be suffering from it without even knowing that you do.
“Smartphone stress largely depends on the number of hours a child or an adult has used the phone,” says Dr Mubashshir Muzammil Khan, paediatrician and a neonatologist. “I am always connected. I get emails from clients at odd hours and I feel the need to respond immediately. And if I see a message from my boss as soon as I wake up, I get worked up before even getting out of bed. The pressure is always on and I feel stressed all the time,” says a marketing executive.
“Hormones like cortisol hormones remain elevated in children when they are continuously using smartphones. These hormones make a child anxious about how many likes they get in their pictures, how many are appreciating their posts on social media, etc. They aggravate the stress level in adolescents nowadays. And in cases where parents limited their children’s screen time, we found restlessness or anger in the child,” says Dr Khan. This shows that children aged 14-18 are more prone to smartphone stress as compared to adults.
What's even worse is that the disorder even has withdrawal symptoms. So, when people stop using their phones completely or go on a 'digital detox' as they say, they can experience symptoms that one associates with withdrawal symptoms. This is why, experts also claim that it is better to opt for digital nutrition instead of digital detox. Digital nutrition requires one to recognise the stressors and act on them accordingly. This means you need to be mindful about how you consume digital content.
Dr Yusuf Matcheswalla, a psychiatrist, says, “A digital detox, although helpful, is not totally practical in today’s world. A digital nutrition is a more realistic option as the limited hours that we actively stay away from our devices can help us immensely. We can’t just say no to all the important communication but we can focus on limiting the time spent on a smartphone.”