How Nomophobia–Cell Phone Addiction–Affects Our Teenagers
Cell phone usage is so ubiquitous that we rarely stop to consider whether or not we may actually be addicted to our mobile devices. Yet many scientists have documented and reported on the increasing incidents of cell phone addiction and its associated public health harms–notably in children, teenagers, and members of the “millennial” generation. A recent CNN report said cell phone addiction even now has a name: nomophobia, an abbreviation of “No Mobile Phone Phobia,” i.e. the fear of being without constant access to a mobile device.
CNN pointed to a recent study published by researchers in South Korea. The Koreans examined 19 teenagers with “internet and smartphone addictions” and compared them to 19 normal teenagers. The addicted teens had “significantly” higher levels of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that slows down the neurons in the brain. In plain English, higher GABA levels make it more difficult to maintain focus and control, i.e. more susceptible to distractions. As one scientist told CNN, the Korean study confirms what many other researchers have found: “[I]f you are too dependent on your smartphone, you are basically damaging your ability to be attentive.”
But smartphone addiction is not just about attentiveness. The Korean researchers also said the teenagers in the study “significantly higher scores in anxiety, depression and levels of insomnia and impulsivity.” But following more than two months of “cognitive behavioral therapy,” the researchers said the addicted teenagers’ GABA levels “were significantly decreased” and were more-or-less normal.
Cell Phones as a Gateway to Other Addictions
Cell phone addiction can also lead to larger public health problems. There has been a significant increase in recent years of smartphone-related car accidents–the result of “texting while driving” and other distracted-driving behaviors. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated distracted driving kills approximately 9 people each day.
On an individual level, smartphone and cell phone addiction can also serve as a gateway to other addictive behaviors. Kotaku, a website that covers the gaming industry, recently profiled a 19-year-old teenager who became addicted to gambling via “microtransactions” featured in many popular mobile and PC-based games. Kotaku noted that many of these games are “notorious” for their “repetitive grind and pay-to-win microtransactions.” The teenager profiled documented more than $13,000 in such payments, and said his smartphone continued to fuel his addiction even after his parents cut off his home Internet access.
This may sound like an extreme case, but smartphone-based addiction is a real and growing problem. Beyond the psychological impact of addiction, there are also the physical effects of long-term cell phone exposure. If you or someone in your family has developed a health problem related to mobile device exposure and you would like to speak a qualified cell phone cancer attorney, call the offices of Frasier, Frasier & Hickman, LLP, at (918) 584-4724 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.