Is Your Cell Phone Causing Depression?
Written by: Emilyn Gil
Is Your Cell Phone Causing Depression?
It follows you almost everywhere. It’s in your car, your house, your bag. It goes with you to the grocery store, to work, to the gym. It even lies in your bedroom while you sleep. It’s…
Your cell phone.
Whew! Scared you for a second there, didn’t I?
Cell phones have quickly become a staple in 21st century life. You use it for calls, texts, posts, pictures, reminders, video calls, dating, chats, you name it. And with all the new advancements and features, it seems like cell phones make life better and better every day.
But there actually is something scary about your cell phone that no one has told you. A fact that any phone company would pay millions to keep hidden.
Your cell phone is causing depression.
Cell Phones And Depression
A study recently came out from San Diego State University that shows proof of a stunning correlation between cell phone use and depression. Based on questionnaires including over 500,000 participants, symptoms of depression increased by 58% in only 5 years. In the same amount of time the suicide rate increased by 65% for girls between the ages of 13 and 18.
And the biggest contributor? More time on their cell phone.
The problem is only getting worse. Unless something changes fast, who knows how high those numbers could reach in the next few years?
The Dark Side Of Cell Phone Use
Why would a cell phone cause someone to be depressed? Actually, there are many factors. We’ll go into a few in detail and give you just a little taste of what’s happening behind that little hand-held screen.
Cell Phone Addiction
More often than not we associate addiction with drugs and alcohol. But have you ever considered that a cell phone addiction is also possible?
How many times a day do you check your phone for texts, comments, or emails? 20 times a day? 50? 80? Research shows that you probably use your phone twice as much as you think you do. This means that most of your cell phone use is just out of habit. An automatic behavior that you’re not totally aware of.
Unfortunately, that sounds a bit like addiction to me.
Researchers at the University of Illinois discovered that people who found themselves addicted to their cell phone were also found to have depression and anxiety.
There’s a lot of negativity online and on social media and unfortunately it usually has a target. A study from American Academy of Pediatrics found that 1 out of every 6 high school students had been a victim of cyber bullying within the past year.
I don’t know about you, but if I spend any amount of time reading about and musing over unpleasant things that were said about me, my mood definitely declines. A lot.
More Anxiety, Less Happiness
An analysis done by Kent State University showed that as cell phone usage for college students increased so did their anxiety, while at the same time their happiness and satisfaction with life decreased.
Time spent on your cell phone isn’t usually deemed an achievement. The more time you spend mindlessly on your phone, the less time you’ll spend getting things done and accomplishing things that will make you truly happy in the end.
Sorry Social Life
You can’t go anywhere these days without seeing someone on their cell phone. In fact, it’s become so common to use cell phones in public that there’s even a word for it. Phubbing. When you snub someone by using your phone instead of paying attention to them, that’s phubbing.
There are also studies showing that cell phone usage lowers your attention span and raises depression. This in turn was found to negatively affect a person’s social activity and relationships with friends.
Less Beauty Sleep
Don’t you hate it when you get to bed early for a good night’s sleep and you decide to browse Facebook really quick on your phone before turning the lights out and then suddenly it’s already 2 AM and you’ve been scrolling for hours? Or when you’re comfortably nestled under the covers and are just about to drift off to sleep when your phone vibrates and jolts you wide awake?
It’s certainly annoying, but it’s also more than that. Using your phone at night or being woken up by your phone at night is actually directly associated with tiredness and a lowered mood.
Research has also shown that adolescents who don’t get enough quality sleep are more prone to suicidal thoughts and self harm.
How To Break The Cellphone Cycle
Spending too much time on your cell phone is a hard habit to break. Studies even show that people who are depressed tend to rely on their cell phone to help elevate their mood. And if cell phone use tends to make you depressed and depression makes you turn to your cell phone, that can go nowhere real fast.
So how can you snap out of it? Is there any hope for our doomed society?
Yes you can and yes there is! I’ve made a list of 6 things that you can do starting TODAY to minimize your cell phone time and take control of your life and mood!
1. Be Social
Instead of scrolling through pictures and posts of friends and parties, use the time on your phone to call up a friend and invite them out to lunch. Or if you’re waiting for your flight at the airport or in line at the bookstore, put your phone in your pocket and strike up a conversation with someone. More likely than not, you’ll learn something interesting about them and quite possibly make a new friend!
Getting active is a great way to get your blood flowing, boost your energy and improve your mood. If you find you’ve spent a little too much time on the couch with your cell phone, hop up and do some jumping jacks, go on a bike ride, or play some tennis. Exercising can help distract you from your phone and make you feel great!
Taking time out of your day to really check in with yourself through meditation is a perfect way to reduce cell phone time and combat some of the depression that may come from it. Really listening to your body and fully investing in the moment can help elevate your mood and boost your self confidence.
4. Daily Planning
If you take a few minutes at the beginning of your day to make a to-do list or organize your agenda and refer to it throughout the day, you’ll be much less likely to dawdle your time away on your cell phone. Sometimes just taking a moment to coordinate your daily activities is all you need to keep on track. And there’s nothing more satisfying than looking over your fully-checked to-do list at the end of a busy day!
5. Set A Cell Phone Bedtime
Setting a “bedtime” for your phone can help keep your cell phone time separated from your sleeping time. You can also keep it on silent or on airplane mode at night to keep the notifications from waking you up. Putting away your cell phone at night can help you sleep better and feel more rested in the morning.
6. Be Creative!
Find those things that you love to do, the things that make you who you are and DO THEM! Or try out new things and explore new hobbies. Participating in things that make you happy every day will get you excited about really living life and keep that phone in the pocket where it belongs.
The Successful Cell Phone Diet
The most important thing is that you moderate how much you are using your cell phone. Just like keeping a diet helps you to become more aware of what you eat, it’s important to become more aware of how much you use your cell phone and how it affects your mood. Once you find that balance, your life and mood will be improved for the better and you’ll have nothing to be afraid of.
So turn that cell phone off and get back to living the life you were meant to live!
Emilyn Gil is a 22 year old English Major at UVU. She started writing at age 6, and since then has won several awards including the Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key and was featured in the Kolob Canyon Review in Cedar City. Aside from the written word, her other passions include performing in the occasional musical theater production, and playing piano, guitar, and ukulele. Some of her favorite pastimes are baking, napping, and spending time with family. She likes monkeys, homemade rolls, and the color yellow. She has traveled to Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico, and Canada, and currently resides in Orem, Utah with her husband Jorge. You can find more of her work online at emilyaddn.blogspot.com or on Instagram at @emilyncan.
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