Phone People

By Jo Phillips

Are we Addicted to Phones?

In 2020, it seems like everyone owns a phone. Worldwide, an estimated 4.5billion people have a mobile phone, which is significantly more than half the entire planet’s population.  In the UK, at least 95% of households own a mobile phone, up 15% from 2010.

We turn to our mobile phones for pretty much everything these days. We use our phones to communicate with friends and family, watch our favourite sports & make bets, listen to music, take photographs, complete our banking, arrange our transport, and even order food. We can curate and control almost every aspect of our lives on our phones. Worryingly, many of us are actually becoming addicted to our devices, as more and more of our lives seem to be played out on the things we carry around in our pockets.

It’s not just the convenience of our phones that hooks us, though. When people use their phones for social connection, their brains release the chemical dopamine, motivating them to come back for more. In search of the dopamine hit that makes us feel good, we compulsively check our phones to see if our posts and pictures are liked by our friends and see if anyone has got in touch with us. This vicious cycle continues and is one of the leading causes of phone addiction.

If we take a look at some research that has been conducted into mobile phone addiction, there are some worrying findings. An MIT study discovered that students who voluntarily withdrew from their phones for 24 hours suffered anxiety induced by the absence of their devices. Tragically, mobile phone addiction has even been linked to suicide, with a 2017 study finding that young people who spent more time on new media devices were more likely to report mental health issues than those that spent more time offline.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. In a globalised world, our phones have connected us to more people than ever and allowed us to participate in a whole host of leisure activities that we can enjoy pretty much wherever and whenever we like. For example, there’s nothing more exciting than watching our favourite sports team and betting on the outcome. There are hundreds of bookmakers in the UK, and most of them have apps that can be downloaded on Android or iOS.

Some new bookmakers websites, such as bet365, provide an unrivalled streaming service that allows you to live stream sports from all over the world and bet in-play while watching. In order to be eligible, you only need a small amount of money in your account and don’t have to sign up for expensive sports subscription services. For a keen sports fan, live streaming sports and betting online is an excellent way to pass some free time and undoubtedly puts your phone or mobile device to good use.

While there are so many other beneficial ways in which you can use your phone and enjoy your leisure time, it’s beyond the scope of this post to explore all of them in great detail. It’s clear that due to the widespread availability of phones, and the fact that they are so multi-purpose, it’s easy to become addicted to them, and the research suggests that this is a big problem for many of us today. So I suppose a sensible way to proceed is to make your phone work for you and only utilise apps and software that bring you joy and help to improve your life. If we’re deliberate with our smartphone use, we can enjoy the benefits without worrying too much about their adverse effects on our health and well-being.

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