If you’re a young adult, or even still a teenager, you might find you rely pretty heavily on your phone. You might find it hard to quit it, too– with notifications from all your applications, your emails, and the text messages that continuously light up your phone; you’re never really free of the online interactions so prevalent in the world today. But why are phones so addicting, and what has led to the rise of mental illness that haunts consistent technology users? What sort of treatment or regulatory options exist for electronic addiction? Should we detox from our phones, or are they increasingly becoming part of the world that we live in?
As early as 2012, scientists have been warning about the adverse effects of technology on children– but in 2016 the statistics and research studies seemed to pick up. However, in a 2016 Duke University study, students who texted their friends more during the day reported lower rates of depression and anxiety, although they were more likely to exhibit behaviors like lying, fighting, and other behavioral problems, as well as exhibit symptoms of ADD and ADHD. Electronic usage also has been found to correlate with lower levels of self-control in teens. A San Diego State University study found similar results– those who spend more than three hours online on any device per day were more likely to report feeling depressed and report having suicidal thoughts, especially in young girls.
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But what can you do to avoid these negative thoughts and behaviors (besides obviously putting down the phone every once in a while)? Many mental health advocates and researchers suggest reaching out for help when you feel hopeless is a great place to start. Working with a counselor can be immensely helpful in understanding and coming to terms with your thoughts– and a counselor can help you holistically address your health (including your device usage) and tailor your actions accordingly. Reducing your device usage can be the first step in becoming healthier and understanding your health in a holistic, general sense.
Detoxing on Your Own
To “detox” from your phone on your own, several options exist. Just deciding to not answer work emails or texts on a Saturday or Sunday can be a great place to start. Other significant areas to begin understanding your technology usage are apps that track your time, forcing you to reconcile with the amount of time you spend online. If you find that you regularly reach for your phone while working, apps like Forest (available on iOS and Android) can help keep you focused on your work.