As we get older, will our use of mo­biles re­turn to haunt us?

Ev­ery­where you look these days, peo­ple are on their mo­bile phones, tablets and iPhones. Psy­chother­a­pist and coun­sel­lor Amanda Jayne ex­plores what could be a ma­jor prob­lem in to­day’s tech­no­log­i­cal world.

Let's Talk - - Mental Health 91 -

It’s strange to think that when we were kids we had no in­ter­net. We had no mo­bile phone, tablet or iPad.

If we wanted to know some­thing, we went to the li­brary, or looked in an en­cy­clo­pe­dia or asked peo­ple.

If we wanted to speak to some­one, we wrote a let­ter or walked to the phone box, or used the home tele­phone. There was no web or Google! How on earth did we man­age?

Al­though there are prob­lems for any gen­er­a­tion, life for us was sim­pler. We were not ex­posed to the re­lent­less pres­sure of so­cial me­dia, or the some­times hor­ri­fy­ing con­tent of the in­ter­net.

Young peo­ple to­day can­not be­gin to imag­ine what that must have been like. They ask how we com­mu­ni­cated, played games, did re­search, spelled and took pho­to­graphs?

As tech­nol­ogy took over, the way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing changed. The younger gen­er­a­tion com­mu­ni­cate via ‘the net’, on so­cial me­dia, YouTube, email, mo­bile phone. More young peo­ple do not read books, but gain their in­for­ma­tion from videos and on­line fo­rums. They don’t meet up so much faceto-face, but on­line are con­stantly in touch with one an­other.

The scary re­al­ity is that in­creas­ing num­bers of peo­ple are be­com­ing ad­dicted to this way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing.

There are lots of stud­ies be­ing un­der­taken. One by the Pew Re­search Cen­tre, mea­sured one of the brain’s neu­ro­trans­mit­ters, GABA, which in­ter­rupts and slows the neu­rons of the brain, and too much phone us­age can spike lev­els of GABA.

An­other re­cent re­port states that the blue light from mo­bile phones can dam­age sen­si­tive cells in the retina which cause changes re­sem­bling mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion, which in turn can lead to per­ma­nent vi­sion loss.

Dr Paul McLaren, con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist at the Pro­pry’s Hayes Grove Hospi­tal in Kent says:

“Any­thing we do that rapidly pro­duces a pos­i­tive feel­ing has the po­ten­tial to be ad­dic­tive.”

He adds: “Peo­ple do not get ad­dicted to phones, but they may get ad­dicted to apps or be­hav­iours which make it easy to ac­cess, such as gam­bling, shop­ping, so­cial me­dia.”

Signs of ad­dic­tion may be: be­com­ing ir­ri­ta­ble if the in­ter­net is blocked; ly­ing about how of­ten you use your de­vice; get­ting an­gry if you can­not use your phone; fa­tigue and in­som­nia; ir­ri­tabil­ity; poor con­cen­tra­tion; strained re­la­tion­ships as a re­sult of ex­ces­sive use; hav­ing with­drawal symp­toms such as anx­i­ety, if you can­not use your de­vice; a con­stant need to check so­cial me­dia and re­spond.

We can ex­pect more proof of the im­pact on our health from the use of mo­biles. Just as smok­ing was once fash­ion­able and no­body knew the real im­pact on our health un­til much later, we can ex­pect the same to be the case for mo­bile phones.

You only have to Google it to find out!

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