A team of psychologists from the University of Derby and Nottingham has conducted an online study to discover the association between smartphone use and personality traits. The study consisted of 640 smartphone users aged 13 to 69 in the UK.
It was found that those who have mental health issues are more likely to use their smartphones as a form of distraction therapy.
Anxiety correlates directly with smartphone use, supporting past research of not only these devices changing how we perceive the world but also on how we perceive ourselves relying on likes and shares to validate human existence.
The study found that people were more closed off and secretive when engaging with their phones.
Paranoia surrounding allowing another person to use their phone was very prevalent in the study. Many users who allowed this eagerly overlooked every detail of actions taking place on their phones despite having nothing to hide. It was commented that allowing another person to use your phone was like loaning out your firstborn.
In addition to the findings it was found that the top three applications used were; social networking at 50%, followed by instant messaging at 53%, and music applications at 19%.
Our anxiety levels increase the more we engage in these devices:
As demonstrated on Panorama (4th June 2018, 7.00 pm BBC One), separation anxiety causes the user’s heart rate to rise dramatically when a person is separated from their device. The experiment showed a woman attached to a heart rate monitor watching a video whilst her smartphone (placed behind her) was bombarded with messages. At the end of the short experiment, it was clear to see that her anxiety levels rose dramatically each time a message was received. The participant commented that she felt she was missing out each time her phone made a noise, which made her feel anxious and somewhat isolated.
Apps are deliberately made to be addictive:
Social media company insiders have said that they make their apps addicting so they can sell our time. The longer we spend on these apps the more time they can sell and the more money they can make.
“It’s as if they’re taking behavioural cocaine and just sprinkling it all over your interface and that’s the thing that keeps you like coming back and back and back.”
Former Mozilla and Jawbone employee Aza Raskin
In another part of the program, it was suggested that social media is very similar to slot machines in America. It is cheap, flashy and everyone can easily access it. The business model is simple yet ingenious; entice the world in with an app, keep them hooked with bright colours and noises, and sell their time to advertisers.
Facebook said their goal is solely to “bring people closer to their friends, family and the things they care about”. At no point has Facebook ever mentioned their platform being addictive or the need for it to be so in order to remain profitable but it is clear that selling space, and your time is a huge factor in its continued success.
In Brittan, teenagers spend on average over 18 hours a week on social media:
With the ease of access comes the desire, even addiction, of checking social media platforms for the latest news. It is easy to see the correlation between these platforms and an overall decline in mental health amongst teens and young adults. Many admit that they feel down if something they have posted does not get as many likes or shares as their peers. Sadly, this desire to be popular online has led some to take their own lives.
Addiction experts and therapists have seen a dramatic increase in clients with smartphone addictions over the past ten years. Typically, they come in with;
Stress | Anxiety | Depression | Anger | eating disorders | Self-harming.
All of which is related to the use of mobile phones.
Many professional experts including medical and digital, say that a smartphone is no different from giving a person a gram of coke.
Although much research is needed, and smartphone addiction is not officially recognised, it is clear that we have a problem and the sooner we accept this the better it will be for us and future generations.