The blank stare and vibrant glow is all too familiar. In the theater, restaurant, bar, wherever-You can count on people using their smartphones way beyond the “I really need to take this call” excuse. It’s become a part of the atmosphere. Now, people walk the streets with their head down looking at their device, oblivious of their surroundings. While smartphones have made life easier for many of us, our love of them is becoming more like an addiction worthy of support groups and crisis hotlines.
There are all kinds of addictions, and like most, people will deny having one, especially to their smartphone. So here’s your chance to be a junior scientist. The next time you’re out somewhere, scan the crowd. You’ll probably notice the majority of people are on their phone as if major breaking news-Aliens have landed, earth has achieved world peace, the Kardashians have actually done something to merit fame-is occurring and their device is the only place it’s being announced. Nope, they’re just texting, Facebooking, gaming. In an April 2012 study by AV-Comparatives, it was found that 70% of smartphone users never turn their devices off-Meaning they stay connected 24/7.
These days it seems people attend functions only so they can check in at the location, tweet about it and not be left out of any Peach Frost Mr Freeze Facebook photos. Honestly, how many times have you taken a picture and instantly thought it would make a great profile picture? Some people even pretend to be using or talking on their device to avoid eye contact or other social interactions.
Now close your eyes and pretend your smarphone was lost, stolen or a baby flushed it down the toilet-I don’t know. Regardless, it’s gone, gone, gone like Pauly Shore’s career. Do you feel your heart racing? Awful feeling, isn’t it? Even if you accidentally leave your device somewhere you know is safe, like your car, that doesn’t make it feel any less traumatic. You still search your pockets and have a mini freak-out before remembering where it is. Consider this separation anxiety mixed with addiction.
It’s tough to say smartphones are more addictive than cigarettes, mainly because there is no true biological dependence on the device as there is with nicotine, but it certainly can become habit forming. Whether it’s shopping, overeating or gambling, not all addictions are substance-related. The rising global smartphone addiction has even gotten to the point that many countries have implemented harsh laws against using them while driving and launched ad campaigns warning of the risks.