Dude, Where’s My Phone?

Wake up in the morning barely dragging myself along. Take too long to get ready and realize that I have to rush to get to class. Get to class and realize that in my morning haze, I forgot my cell phone sitting on the counter while walking out of the house. What do I do? Go home and get my phone and show up late for class or just sit here without it? What am I going to do in the middle of class without my phone? Should I pay attention in class today or just wonder who might have texted and snapped me in the two hours I am not able to reach for my phone? I think option two probably sounds like a more probable answer. According to Student Science, the average college student spends about nine hours each day on his or her smartphone. That’s longer than most of these students spend sleeping.

A recent study conducted by Telenav sought to determine the extent people would go to keep their cell phones. The results showed that overall, people were willing to go to great lengths to keep their phones in the palm of their hand. A third of all people were willing to give up sex for a week rather than go without their cellphone. Another 70 percent said that they would give up alcohol (which may not be a terrible sacrifice), 63 percent were willing to give up chocolate, and 55 percent of the people were willing to go without caffeine instead of their phone. Now, some of these sacrifices may not even seem like sacrifices to some people. I could definitely say that I would give up caffeine and chocolate to keep my phone…easy. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. This study also indicated that one in five people were willing to go without shoes rather than lose their cellphone. Even though you probably can’t imagine phone attachment being any worse than this, but this still isn’t the case. The real kicker in this study is the fact that 22 percent of the people surveyed indicated that they would be willing to go a week without seeing their significant other than go without their phone. Who needs a girlfriend when you have a smartphone?

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The mindset of always needing your phone on you has become such a major problem that they have now come up with a name for the fear of being without your phone. Nomophobia can be described as that rush of anxiety and fear an individual gets when they realize that they are disconnected or out of the loop with their friends, family, work and the world because he or she forgot their phone at home. Think about how many times you have forgotten your phone when you went somewhere; did you panic when you realized you didn’t have it with you? The answer to this question is probably yes. People are becoming so obsessed with constantly needing to have their phone that it is beginning to take over the everyday life of a person.

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Still not convinced you’re an addict? Let me break it down further for you because you’ve probably already experienced some of the symptoms in the time it took you to read thus far. It’s pretty easy with this checklist found on Psychology Today that breaks down the numerous symptoms that are associated with phone addiction.

  • Feeling anxious whenever you do not have you phone in your physical possession? That’s because you can’t talk to your friends and may have to carry on a real conversation with someone.
  • Constantly checking the phone for new texts, coupled with the compulsion to respond immediately. Can’t keep the people waiting! Becky might have gotten a new haircut!
  • Did you feel that? Your phone just vibrated and you felt it. Just kidding! You more or less just hoped your phone would vibrate reassuring the fact that you have friends. Phantom Cellphone Vibration Syndrome is a thing and you just experienced it.
  • You’re not listening. In fact, you have no idea what the person directly in front of you is saying because you’re clearly checking Facebook or Twitter instead of listening to them.
  • Failing in school from not paying attention in class because you’re too busy texting and snapping pictures of your professor?
  • Decide to go to the store for groceries, but MUST turn around halfway there because you forgot your phone and can’t be without it.

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So, what actually drives this crazy addiction? Many of us want to feel good about ourselves, or at least better than we do right now. When a person gets a text or alert on their phone from friends, potential lovers, or even strangers, there is a sense of reward. “Yes! I’m getting attention!” Where there is a pleasurable reward, there is a potential for an addiction. As Psychology Today states, addictions form around the basis of having a dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal towards something. If we examine phone addiction, you can see how all of these parts come together to drive a person totally crazy when they don’t have their phone on them. Dependence results from the constant need of having your cell phone with you at all times to reduce the stress of not having contact with others. The tolerance results from needing more and more attention from new individuals to keep yourself satisfied in your current friendship/relationship. Lastly, withdrawal from your phone occurs as easily as forgetting it on your bed at home when you leave the house feeling the need to go get it. You must have it on you at all times or you have no idea what to do or how you will function throughout the day.

A recent study on Psychology Today explains that dopamine has been linked to phone addiction. Dopamine is created in various parts of the brain and is critical in numerous brain functions, including thinking, sleeping, mood, attention, motivation, seeking and reward. When individuals receive texts, snaps, Facebook likes and other notifications, it allows for the release of dopamine making a person feel rewarded. I’m sure we’ve all had that rush when someone blows up your phone constantly making you feel important and popular, but what happens when your phone isn’t being bombarded? You more than likely feel unpopular and just downright terrible. This is because your brain has slowly adjusted to having increased levels of dopamine release from constant cellphone use. Once you take away the constant cellphone stimuli, you take away the release of dopamine and have withdrawals from it. This is what drives people to constantly need their phones with them!

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Unfortunately, I am also a phone addict. Yes, Jesse is a phone addict! I constantly have to have my phone on me to feel comfortable and have peace of mind because I clearly seek attention from people to help myself feel better throughout the day. Having a bad day? Why yes I am! What should I do about it? Probably text somebody, check Facebook to see if anyone else hates their life as much as me, or snap one of my friends to see if they look just as terrible as I do. The fact of the matter is, everything I do throughout my day revolves around having my phone in my pocket and being able to keep immediate contact with people. The second I forget my phone at home is the second my whole day is thrown off. I honestly can’t function if I don’t have my phone with me and it’s kind of an issue, but the odds of this addiction changing in the near future is slim to none.

Click the link below to learn more about the brain changes associated with phone addiction!

15 Facts About The Brain Of A Phone Addict

By Jesse

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