Cell phone addiction: heads down everywhere

Cell phone addiction: heads down everywhere

Not without my smartphone - what helps against cell phone addiction
For many people, the smartphone has long been an integral part of everyday life. Even though the devices make our lives easier in many areas, frequent use also poses health risks. Among other things, smartphones promote digital burnout. They can also be addictive. There are, however, ways of dealing with cell phone addiction.

Slaves to their usage habits
Chat with friends, surf the Internet, play, shop or even search for a partner for life: the smartphone is part of everyday life for most people. Constant use also poses health risks. For example, nearsightedness increases due to constant smartphone use. Many users are under stress, which is why some experts recommend a digital diet for mobile phone users. But such an online fast is only conceivable for very few citizens, as a survey recently showed. People who have become slaves to their usage habits should do something about cell phone addiction.

If you are dependent on your smartphone
The computer scientist Alexander Markowetz, who researched digital burnout at the University of Bonn, explains in a message from the dpa news agency what happens when users become addicted: "I perform an action and then there is a surprise." The action is the push of a button to activate the display, the surprises can be varied: is there any news? Who saw my posted photos from vacation or party? The rhythm is then determined by waiting for the next message from friends, for a new like on Facebook or the next level in the online game. The body releases the happiness hormone dopamine, which ensures that we always use the display. "That is maximum reward with minimal effort," explains Michael Knothe, press spokesman for the Media Dependency Association, the mechanism.

Not every frequent user is equally dependent
But where is the boundary between normal use and addiction? Just because you look at your smartphone a lot doesn't make you addicted, says Kai Müller, who works as a psychologist in the gambling addiction clinic at Mainz University Hospital. “There are certain risk factors that people bring with them.” Sometimes the smartphone is used for distraction in stressful situations or to avoid uncomfortable tasks. "You should be worried when everything revolves around the cell phone and you also interrupt beautiful activities to look at the display," says Müller. Working with a cell phone must neither impair the hobby nor replace social contacts. People who chat for hours but continue to go to the sports club and get to school are not likely to have an addiction problem.

The cell phone can be taken anywhere
In contrast to, for example, automatic daddle machines or gaming PCs, smartphones can be taken anywhere. This means that there are no more natural breaks. According to Müller, the following applies: “It is important to define specific time-outs.” Even if it is not an addiction, excessive use has disadvantages. "If I look at my cell phone every 20 minutes, my productivity and my feeling of happiness suffer," warns Alexander Markowetz, who has developed an app called Menthal that measures usage behavior on cell phones. Non-representative evaluations of the app running on 300,000 smartphones showed that users look at the display on average 88 times a day, and in 53 cases an action follows. The constant interruptions mean that the concentration is disturbed and the work is difficult.

Consumer diary against anti-yoga
Markowetz calls this anti-yoga: “In yoga you put yourself in an orthopedically valuable position and focus the mind. When smartphone surfing, many people adopt an orthopedic absurd attitude and seek distraction. “So it takes more than mindfulness and self-control to get a grip on the use. "You can keep a consumption diary and write down what you liked to do in the past and would like to do more again," advises Michael Knothe. This also helps to estimate how much space the cell phone takes up and what alternatives there are.

Do not take cell phones to the dining table or to bed
In the dpa report, psychologist Müller recommends taking offline days on which mobile data use is switched off. Cell phones didn't belong at the dining table or in bed anyway. Health experts warn especially of the latter. This also has to do with the fact that bright screen lights rob us of sleep at night and should therefore be avoided at all costs. In addition to Menthal, apps such as Checky, Offtime, Hypnobeep or Qualitytime can also help. These provide feedback on usage habits. Furthermore Markowetz advises to make the use of the smartphone as cumbersome and superfluous as possible. For example, by using a wristwatch and alarm clock instead of the corresponding mobile phone functions and putting your smartphone in your backpack instead of in your pocket. In order to put the test to the test, you can try a whole day without getting along with the device. If that works, according to Müller, the benefits are within the scope. (ad)

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