There is no doubt about it- all of us are highly dependent upon our cell phones. Day and night, at work and at home, our cell phones allow us to make connection to the outside world that we never thought would be possible. It’s no wonder that almost half of all Americans consider their cell phone their most valuable possession, and almost no one leaves their house without their phone. On average, we check our phones 262 times a day! It is almost like a significant part of the population could be consider to be “addicted” to their phones.
So the question becomes how does this dependency upon our phones affect our well-being?
To begin with, many experts say that phone addiction leads to stress and anxiety and other physical manifestations such as neck pain or eye strain. Many people report that almost constant cell phone use also results in interference with work, household, and family responsibilities, affecting productivity. Others report that the cell phone use, instead of providing some satisfaction, actually causes them to withdraw and distance from friends, families, recreation, and other activities that contribute to enjoyment of life.
Regarding the population as a whole, experts agree that teenagers are at the greatest risk. Teenagers are more likely to have addiction-like symptoms than any other age group as they have not yet developed self-control. And it is common for teens to be on their phones during the late-night hours, resulting in insomnia, slack of sleep, and poor academic performance.
While the above certainly establishes that cell phone addiction can result in a loss of quality of life, cell phone addiction becomes deadly when we are behind the wheel.
According to the CDC, 9 people are killed and over 1,000 people injured EVERY DAY from distracted driving. Cell phone users who are addicted to their devices are more likely to use them while driving, increasing their risk of being involved in a car accident. A current study reported that 40% or drivers use or look at their phone while driving. Another study shows that drivers make more mistakes when talking on a cell phone than when talking with a passenger. Passengers are often viewed as distracting but safety data suggests that passengers over the age of 25 are protective. My experience has shown me that cell phone usage becomes deadly when drivers are alone in the car and use their phone for companionship.
So what are the top phone activities while driving? Some of them you may easily guess, and others may surprise you!
- Answering a phone call
- Making a phone call
- Reading a text
- Using social media
- Using a maps app
- Talking on FaceTime
- Snapping selfies
- Using a music app
- Online shopping
What is the solution to this growing epidemic? Stay tuned and we will discuss how to stem this growing addiction in our next blog!
National Institutes of Health
The National Safety Council