Is your Smartphone your Best Friend, your Worst Enemy, or Something In Between?
You know what’s really great about smartphones?
Well, for starters, they really help you feel happy with where you are in life when you’re scrolling through Instagram and peering into other people’s highly curated content. Also, if you have a bad day, you have like, thousands of followers to choose from so you can tell them about it, right?
Ok, obviously I’m being sarcastic. But why does it actually matter how you feel in relation to what is happening on your phone? Psychologists are still trying to determine whether or not smartphones decrease mental health in people, or just exacerbate symptoms that are already there.
While fear of new technology accompanies almost any groundbreaking invention, as it did with the television, video games, and many others, there are differences in the way we interact with smartphones that make the question particularly intriguing. For starters, it’s revolutionized the way the world interacts faster than anything else ever has. In less than a decade, actually, and we haven’t had time the to study the implications. Additionally, it’s with us more constantly than any other piece of technology, making it the first piece of technology that’s capable of replacing face to face interaction on such a large scale.
That being said, there are some trends that researchers have noticed and been able to identify. In a study analyzed by the staff at Mentalfloss, one of the most common harmful patterns people tend to engage in due to smartphone usage is increased feelings of isolation due to “fear of missing out,” aka FOMO. Secondly, because of the addictive nature of our phones, we tend to get stuck in what’s called “negative feedback loop,” finding it hard to resist going back to the thing that is causing us discomfort in the first place. Lastly psychologists discovered an increase in people using their phones to distract themselves from negative feelings. Temporarily, this can be helpful, but over long periods of time, this can make a person more susceptible to mental health problems.
Asking yourself some basic questions like “do I feel better or worse after being on my phone?” is something The MILK App can help you do. It can give you some breathing room and reward you for taking steps towards a better relationship with yourself and others. Who knows; your relationship with your phone could be totally harmless! But by taking some time to ask the question, you will most definitely take steps towards becoming a mental health ninja, which is a great practice for any of us!