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February 17, 2022

What our Phones are doing to our Mental Health.

The Negative Effects of Technology on Our Mental Health and Mood

It is almost impossible to avoid or not to like technology in our modern world.

However, many researchers during recent years continue to draw close attention to whether an excessive amount of time that we are spending on our screens increases some mental health concerns.

Over the years, internet-based platforms have impacted our social skills, our emotional state of mind, and how we communicate with others.

If by impulse, you’re someone who checks your cell phone as soon as you’re awake in the morning, you’re not alone. A study from IDC Research has concluded that 80 percent of cell phone users check their device 15 minutes after waking every morning. You might find yourself checking the news and moving toward the entertainment page.

Also, there is more evidence of a statistically proven correlation between depression and technology. For example, a national survey published by the American Psychological Association has indicated that mental health issues have increased among our younger demographics in the past 10 years, and our digital media world may be the reason.

Finally, you find yourself catching up with all the updates on your social media—and you’re already feeling exhausted because that screen you are staring at while scrolling can leave you feeling mentally tired without having been at work yet. In addition, a study published on Wiley Online Library has shown that spending a significant amount of time scrolling through your socials may worsen your depression symptoms.

Cell phones and your mood.

As I was writing this article, I wanted to test and see how checking my smartphone would make me feel first thing in the morning. As a result, it was like someone was holding a flashlight directly into my eyes. So, instead of allowing my body to wake up slowly and letting my brain go through all the necessary waves, I felt like my brain moved directly into gamma, which is the fastest brain wave. As a result, I felt awake, but I was having racing thoughts in my mind, which affected my mood and productivity throughout the morning.

According to the website at Thomas Jefferson University, brain waves can change our moods. Brain waves can also help doctors and scientists denote how we learn and retain information and how brain disorders are identified.

Brain waves aren’t just responsible for changing your mood. Physicians and researchers examine brain waves to understand how we learn and remember, and also to help diagnose disorders of the brain.”

Additionally, we increase the production of alpha brain waves when we practice mindfulness meditation or simply by exercising. According to an article in Healthline, a simple activity such as warming up our muscles can increase brain waves. Moreover, when we practice any relaxation techniques, it is another natural way for the body to produce a neurotransmitter called serotonin.

Our brain generates five different waves called: gamma, beta, alpha, theta, and delta. Learning how to increase and control your brain waves can help you achieve that relaxed state of mind and increase your inventiveness throughout the day. And it will also increase your theta and alpha waves and improve your depression symptoms.

When we get up in the morning, the brain waves transition from delta waves, meaning we are in a deep sleep state, to theta brain waves, a daydream state of mind. Then, as you wake up and slowly move around, the waves divert to an alpha frequency. So, at this point, you are alert and relaxed, but you are not forcing your brain to process and retain information, and thereby skipping two significant waves, such as theta and alpha, to find yourself in a beta stage, which means your body is wide awake.

Positive aspects of technology.

Technology continues to evolve at a remarkable speed to improve our lives. For example, the advancement of valuable tools in the medical and pharmaceutical field are designed to make our lives safer and more manageable, and there are constantly new apps available globally for us to access with our smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

And now, with only a simple click, and without any in-person interactions, especially during a pandemic, doctors can quickly provide an accurate diagnosis for their patients. Moreover, you can quickly pay your bills, keep track of your finances, communicate with people worldwide via text message, email, Zoom, social networks, and more. I relied on technology during my years working in education; I used it as an extra teaching tool to give students additional instruction to enhance their learning experience.

Negative aspects of technology.

Now, like everything else in life, there is always a dark side to something. With technology, constant online connections are creating some concerns among experts with people experiencing symptoms of nomophobia, meaning that they are terrified of losing their smartphones or, for some reason, cannot use them.

Moreover, there is even more on the negative side in our tech world. For example, the Pew Research Center has stated that 30 percent of Americans and children regularly spend too much time online. In the meantime, last year, China took action by allowing children under 18 to play online no longer than three hours a week.

To learn more about addiction and co-dependency to technology, I recently interviewed a psychologist and licensed professional counselor, Dennis Ramos, and asked him the following questions:

Q: Could we be addicted to or co-dependent on technology, specifically cell phones?

Ramos:

In my work as a therapist and counselor, I have known many, many people who use technology without any problems. Computers, TVs, and cell phones are essential to most of our lives these days. However, I have seen quite a few cases where technology has created problems, both for the individual and a person’s relationships.

Your question is about addiction, which we consider a dependency. A dependency generally means that a person will experience emotional and/or physical reactions from the removal, loss, or lack of a particular thing.

Q: What are some common emotional reactions to dependency?

Ramos:

The emotional reaction can be anxiety, depression, grief, or anger. Physically, a person can feel tense, agitated, or unable to relax or sleep. Addictions and dependencies most often involve other underlying complex psychological or emotional problems, as well.

Q: How do technology dependencies affect children?

Ramos:

Most of us have seen kids’ reactions when we put away their video games or turn off the TV and send them to bed. These dependencies are not usually a severe problem, but I have known children who become violently upset or distraught when these activities are terminated.

Q: What are some standard technology addictions for adults?

Ramos:

As for adults, there are many examples of addictions involving technological devices. These include online gambling, gaming, pornography, sports, shopping, Facebook, and many others. I have seen quite a number of people struggle with addictions or dependencies to these activities. These have caused clinical psychological symptoms in some and have ended marriages and relationships.

Q: What factors can increase our dependency on our devices?

Ramos:

Your question is specifically about cell phones, and I believe this device can magnify these problems in certain people. The fact that the cell phone is with you almost 100 percent of the time can strengthen the connection and dependency on the activities. This doesn’t happen so much with the computer or TV.

Nevertheless, now you can have TV, gaming, porn, gambling, and all the other activities in your pocket or purse. In addition, cell phones also offer you the added activities of texting, talking, and sharing photos on social media such as Twitter and others.

Q: A final recap to keep in mind?

Ramos:

As I said earlier, most of us will not have problematic addictions or dependencies on our cell phones. However, the answer to your question is yes, there is such a thing as being addicted (or clinically dependent) on a cell phone. I have worked with a number of people with cell phone addictions. It is not extremely common, in my opinion, but it is not that uncommon either.

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