Mobile phones, iPads, computers, laptops-we cant imagine a day of our life without these gadgets. Gadget addiction is turning out to be the biggest non-drug addiction of the 21st century. Most of us on an average look into our mobile screen 50-100 times a day, either to chat, text, email, checking updates, browse or talk. India is witnessing a rising tide of “gadget addicts”, needless to say that the country has the worlds 2nd highest mobile users; a staggering one billion!.
Increased usage of gadgets has its consequences on both physical and psychological health. Interestingly, the issue has become so grave that even a term is coined for the same “Nomophobia” meaning a form of anxiety disorder. Other psychological terms used are obsessions and inpulse control disorder.
Important effects of excess gadget use on our body are as follows-
Insomnia: We hardly unplug our mobiles from work and social networks. Instead of relaxing before sleep, we constantly check our mobile, looking for updates, play games etc. The habit increasingly invades our sleep and is the worst thing that we do to our mind and body. In this process, melatonin, a chemical in our body which plays an important role in our natural sleep-wake cycle gets upset. Melatonin, interprets light and darkness and sends a signal to the body during night time, the time to sleep. Using the phone at night confuses the melatonin resulting in insomnia.
Anxiety, Poor concentration, Stress: We have become exceedingly dependent on our gadgets and have limited our brain activity and learning experiences. We carry a gadget with us everywhere we go. We are so much hooked into the social network professionally and personally that we hardly have any time for ourselves. We become restless without gadgets and have no clue how to spend the time. This leads to stress and anxiety. Aggression: Addiction may lead to mood swings and other problems including aggression . You must have seen people getting annoyed when their phone is taken away. It is mostly observed in teens that they usually get restless and agitated when their time is done on gadgets or they are asked to stop using them.. This can also lead to behavioural issues. .
Neglecting social time with family and friends: Gadgets are effective tools of communication, but we notice people being so involved with it that they reamain engrossed in their phones in social situations rather than conversing with people around.Teenagers specially lose out on their social and communication skills which are the basics for their growth and would help them in future to interact with people and take important decisions of their life both professionally and personally.
Bad Posture and Eye problems: People continuously tilt their head forward inflicting strain on neck and back which results in disturbed posture. Constant use of gadgets can cause strain to the eye muscles causing eye problems.
Car Accidents: Mobile phone use has become an increasing cause for car accidents all over the world. Research reveals that texting and driving can be as dangerous as drinking and driving.
Too much of anything is bad. Gadgets are very useful provided they are used in limit. Excessive use causes addiction to gadgets which is really difficult to get rid of. Implementing boundaries on use of gadgets in kids will help us shape their future. We ourselves, adults are sensible enough but get trapped in this dependence. The sooner we gain insight into our problems, the sooner we act and regain control of our body. We cannot let the gadgets control us. Its important we maintain our own control.
Dr Daljeet kaur
Founder of DAWN Healthyminds