The cellular phone has become an essential part of life. So much so that 90% of users have it close by, less than a meter away, all the time. In fact, according to the study released by CCK Centroamerica up to half of users (49.41%) have it by the dinner table.

The survey by the leading communication and public relations agency in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panamá, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, that was conducted in six countries in Central America during May, June and July of 2018 with more than 1,472 responses, showed that young adults are the segment that spends the most time with a smartphone phone (approximately 5.3 hours a day), followed by adults in relationships (5.3 hours).

In face-to-face conversations we also use the telephone

The researchers consulted the respondents if they used their mobile phone while holding a face-to-face conversation with their family, friends or colleagues.

Only 45% agreed to doing it, however, the figure is contradicted when put to perspective if they have ever felt ignored by someone who uses the phone. 94% said yes.

In addition, it was discovered that more than half of the respondents claimed to have discussed with their better half about the excessive use of cell phones. And the situation gets worse in the relationships between the 24 and 25-year-olds.

Also, more than 70% believe that mobile devices can facilitate infidelities. The main reason they point out is “the ease that the smartphones give them to contact the other person and the possibility of meeting new people through social networks or applications.”

Similarly, more than 45% of respondents said they have made friends through social networks.

We all understand the joys of our always-wired world—the connections, the validations, the laughs … the info. … But we are only beginning to get our minds around the costs. Andrew Sullivan

The negative impact of the smartphone on relationships

An experiment conducted by the research firm showed that the mere presence of the smartphone in a conversation can negatively impact the interaction.

The researchers asked a group of 32 people who had a conversation with a stranger for ten minutes, in a controlled environment. After the talk, each person would complete a form composed of five variables: relationship, interest/enjoyment, a perception of choice, tension, effort.

The score for each variable was altered when the subjects used their smartphones. It was noted that the interest, the relationship and the perception of choice decreased; while tension and effort increased. This is an indication of how mobile devices impact negatively in interpersonal relationships.

Researchers have come to the conclusion that the smartphone has in ways both quotidian and profound, become extensions of our mind and this generates addiction.

Karina Vold on Motherboard explains it, ‘to get a sense of this, imagine being out with a group of friends when the subject of a movie comes up. One person wonders aloud who the director was. Unless everyone is a movie buff, guesses ensue. In no time at all, someone responds with: ‘I’ll just Google that.’

“What is remarkable about this chain of events is just how unremarkable it has become. Our devices are so deeply enmeshed in our lives that we anticipate them being there at all times with access to the full range of the internet’s offerings.”

“In the absence of the mobile phone many of the people said they felt incomplete (…) 70% of the reactions to the potential absence of their cell phone were negative, which shows the strong link we have developed with the stimuli that this device offers us”, reveals the CKK study.

It also affects productivity

The cell phone is the enemy of attention. A 2017 paper by The Journal of the Association of Consumer Research (JACR) revealed that the mere presence of one’s own smartphone may occupy limited-capacity cognitive resources, thereby leaving fewer resources available for other tasks and undercutting cognitive performance.

It even has a name: “brain drain”.

Results from two experiments indicate that even when people are successful at maintaining sustained attention—as when avoiding the temptation to check their phones—the mere presence of these devices reduces available cognitive capacity. Moreover, these cognitive costs are highest for those highest in smartphone dependence. We conclude by discussing the practical implications of this smartphone-induced brain drain for consumer decision-making and consumer welfare.

American professor and essayist Adrian Ward, details that to minimize this “drain” you have to realize how many “conscious” thoughts are occupied by your phone.

via GIPHY

But not all is lost

Admitting the problem is the first step to overcome the addiction. But if you are strong enough to do it alone, your smartphone, yes your smartphone, can help you.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

The Verge explains the tools that are already on your phone. Apple’s iOS 12 update included a new feature called Screen Time, which gives you a wealth of data about your iPhone and iPad usage, breaking down the amount of time you spent in each individual app on your device.

Android phone users have a setting called Digital Wellbeing, which is pretty similar to Screen Time. The main difference between the two features is that you can basically press a button to ignore it on iOS, but on Android, you have to manually remove the limit, which is way more annoying.

But the easiest method – and probably the most infallible – is to leave your smartphone at home.

And you, how much time do you spend with your mobile devices?


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