The ability to stay connected and the ease of use has made smart phones an essential part of our lives. With technical innovation, making them functional enough to encompass text messaging, social media, phone calls, internet, and games; we are always connected. At one time smart phones were used for parents and children to stay in touch, technology and time has changed this and they have become all encompassing. Smart phones serve as our calendars, alarms, and GPS, sometimes they are used to kill the time. However, as fun and entertaining as smartphones are, are they becoming a danger to our health?
Not only do smartphones let parents and children stay in constant contact, they allow for constant contact with peers, and anyone throughout the world. The mobile internet connection within these phones allows for information sharing at any time, possibly leading to a social order different than we are used to. Mobile communication may be contributing in developing an online society where we are expected to be available anytime, anywhere (Arminen, 2007).
Since mobile phones have become available and usage has dramatically increased, the health risks have increased as well. For example, constant use has affected users physically and psychologically. Some users have become addicted, loose sleep, and have aches and pains (Acharya, Acharya, & Waghrey, 2013). Other side effects of cell phone addiction and overuse include neck pain, eye strain, relationship problems, and depression.
According to Pew research there is an estimated five billion mobile devices in use, with half of those being smartphones (Silver, 2019). This leads to the question how much are we using our smartphones? Nomophobia, the fear of being without a mobile phone is often fueled by a problem with overuse of the internet, internet addiction disorder. It is not the device itself; it is the apps and the online world we are connected to, and it can encompass several impulse control problems. These types of problems include addiction to social media, cybersex and online compulsion (gambling). Addiction to the smartphone can lead to increased feelings of loneliness, exacerbate attention disorders, even encourage self-absorption (Smith, Robinson, & Segal, 2019).
Smartphones have evolved into miniature computers their use has increased, and children are getting them at younger ages there has not been enough research into addiction or dependence on these devices. Benefits and risks of smartphone use are widely known, however there is very little research available that looks into the risks to the health of smartphone users.
The use of smartphones has dramatically increased in the past several years. Despite all the advantages of these devices, there are also some noted potentially disturbing behaviors that have been associated with their use.
For example, Devitt and Roker (2009) studied sixty families to investigate how smartphones impact family relationships. Through recorded interviews and thematic analyzation, it was found that while most considered these devices a keyway of keeping in touch, some found that the younger participants could potentially withdraw into their own social world or obtain a false sense of security.
Jane Vincent (2006) found an alarming trend of panic and anxiety when devices are not present, they become keepers of our memories, phone numbers, pictures, and messages, they become an symbol of who we are, the embodiment of social and emotional lives rather that enabling it. Not only can smartphones cause anxiety, depression, and social isolation, excessive use can also exacerbate these problems. .
A qualitative research method is proposed for this research study. I will be using a social construct theory to investigate how the smartphone has changed the way we live our lives. These interactions are formed through interaction with others and cultural norms that are in play today. This theory views knowledge and truth as a creation between interactions of individuals within society. Social constructivism implies humans are always growing, therefore by the time research has reached us, it has already changed. It allows for the participant to give the answers to the question, researchers are not constructing the answer. Society is shared, meaning that it is both subjective and objective. It regards social practices that people engage in as the focus of inquiry.
Since the main focus of my research would be on how often we are using our smartphones to communicate, the negative effects their usage may have on their lives, and how aware the target group is of the amount of time spent on their smartphone. The target group should be that of young adults, at least eighteen years.
The best approach for data collection will be through semi structured interviews with a younger age group. Semi structured interviews allow for expansion in questioning and answers. Obtaining a pool of participants should not be problematic, fliers would be distributed throughout college campuses. Initial interviews would need to be completed, in order to make sure they fit criteria. Questionnaires will be used for the collection of demographics, including ethnicity, age, and gender. Names will be kept confidential. An extensive review of existing literature would be used for comparisons and to look for changes in patterns of usage.
Data Analysis would be completed by coding the results to describe the content, themes would them be searched for and reviewed. Once the codes are named, they would be entered into software so reports could be generated.
Findings are expected to show that show that as a society the smartphone are relied upon in every relationship that we have. We do not go anywhere without having one of these devices close by.
Participant bias, in which the participant will respond based what they believe is the socially accepted answer. Human error is to considered also; however, it is hoped that participants will answer as honestly as possible.
- When not using your smartphone, do you find yourself always thinking about it?
- Does your smartphone help with bad moods?
- Have you tried to unsuccessfully cut down on usage?
- Has the amount of time spent on your phone affected the amount of time you spend with friends and family?
- When with friends and family do you find yourself trying to hide your phone use?
- How often do you use social media sites. For example, Facebook or twitter
- Do you use your phone for texting, calls, apps, games, or social media the most?
- Do you have any type of neck, shoulder, or arm pain?
- How many hours per day do you think you spend on your phone?
- Do you find yourself feeling anxious when you do not have access to you phone?
- Do you think you are or could become addicted to your phone?
Five questions fall in line with criteria from ICD 10 for dependence syndrome (World Health Organization, n.d.). One looks at vague pain, possibly caused by “text neck,” overuse of neck muscles due to looking down at mobile devices for long periods of time. Three questions look at the possibility of withdrawal, while one is just a general question.
- Acharya, J. P., Acharya, I., & Waghrey, D. (2013). A Study on Some of The Common Health Effects of Cell Phones amongst College Students. Community Medicine and Health Education. doi:10.4172./2161-0711-10000214
- Arminen, I. (2007). Mobile Communication Society? ACTA Socilogica, 50(4), 431-437. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/20460020
- Devitt, K., & Roker, D. (2009). The Role of Mobile Phones in Family Communication. Children and Society, 189-202. doi:10.1111/j.1099-0860-2008.00016.x
- IBM. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ibm.com/products/spss-statistics/details
- Silver, L. (2019). Pew Reseach Center. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2019/02/05/smartphone-ownership-is-growing-rapidly-around-the-world-but-not-always-equally/
- Smith, M., Robinson, L., & Segal, J. (2019, October). helpguide.org. Retrieved from Help Guide: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addictions/smartphone-addiction.htm
- Vincent, J. (2006). Emtional Attachment and Mobile Phones. Knowlwdge, Technology, and Policy, 19(1), 39-44.
- World Health Organization. (n.d.). Retrieved from World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/substance_abuse/terminology/definition1/en/