If I were to ask you how many people, out of the 7 billion on earth owned a cellphone, what would your answer be? I doubt many of you would correctly guess a total of 6 billion people, especially considering only 4.5 billion people have access to a working toilet. Technology plays a very central role in society today as the average time spent on the phone is 4.7 hours per day, or one-third of one’s awake time is spent on the phone. And whilst technology does have a beneficial role, your use of it has detrimental impact on your brain and overall wellbeing.
Why might you find it so hard to put down your phone?
When you use your phone and apps, bursts of dopamine – the hormone associated with reward – is released by your brain as you achieve goals. Studies have shown that this loop of behaviours is the same as for drugs such as nicotine and cocaine. So perhaps you really can become addicted to our phone. Your brain is hardwired for seeking novel situations which is why apps on your phone are created to constantly provide you with new content, adding to their addictive nature.
When you are awake and conscious, the brain pattern is that of gamma waves. However, when you are relaxing and your mind is wandering off, the brain pattern is that of alpha waves. The use of a cellphone when it is transmitting, significantly increases the power of alpha waves, and significantly changes the functioning of the brain.
Technology, such as cellphones and laptops, omit a blue light that can disrupt your sleep pattern as your circadian rhythm is changed. Similarly, this light can decrease the time spent in deep sleep, whilst increasing the chances of diabetes, cancer and obesity. This is why it can be so difficult to fall asleep after using phones, as less melatonin – the hormone response for the regulation of sleep and your sleep cycle – is produced. Therefore, to combat this, it is encouraged that 2 hours before bed becomes a technology-free time, to limit the changes to your circadian rhythm.
Technology is not exclusively bad and can be linked to positive aspects such as online banking and communication, however, there is no denying the impact it may also have on your wellbeing so perhaps it’s time to take a smartphone vacation, to increase your wellbeing and productivity?
Studies have found increased communication and interaction with technology can make it hard for individuals to detach from the workplace outside of office hours. Because we constantly have technological devices with us and switched on, it becomes common understanding that everyone should be accessible and responsive at all hours of the day. However, rather than constantly being ‘online’ it is much better to take a break when the workday has finished. By detaching from technology, you are able to decrease stress levels, and increase excitement for the next day.
Humans are social beings and need interaction with others. However, when you use a cell phone, you gain this social interaction online, rather than engaging in person. Consequently, your ability to engage in empathy and help others is decreased. Studies have found that those who fail to switch off from technology, are less likely to help others and turn down volunteers.
As with everything, moderation is key. Cellphones and technology in general, can provide invaluable information in the form of news and medical information. However, it is when you become dependent on technology that the detrimental effects start to appear, suggesting it really is beneficial to give up the phone once in a while by taking a technology vacation.