Do you think you are addicted to your cell phone?
It is a reality for some. Your phone can be your lifeline or your downfall. But how much is too much?
“The craving to have it near you, to know where it is, to know when you can access it,” said Dr. Tom Milam, who is a psychiatrist.
Sound familiar? Milam just described signs of cell phone addiction. And it’s just like an addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling.
“Sometimes when people are using drugs, like using your phone, they can’t get off of it, they can’t stop for a conversation, at a meal, even when driving,” Milam said. “And that’s when it becomes an addiction to where it’s getting in the way of your normal function of daily life.”
“Nomophobia” is the fear of being separated from your phone. That fear and cell phone addiction, go hand-in-hand.
Usage rates are reaching staggering heights. A recent Baylor University study shows that men use their cellphones eight hours a day, and women use them 10 hours per day.
Doctors say the problem lies when you have anxiety or negative feelings when your phone is away from you.
“If I feel like I’ve lost it, I freak out. I’m like automatically, ‘Oh my gosh, where’s my phone?’” Gretchen Goldsmith said.
Which can lead to:
“Stress, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbance which can even lead to suicidal thoughts or behaviors,” Milam said.
“Some people have real addictions with them that even need to be hospitalized because they get so tied to their phone,” Milam said.
So how does this happen?
“There is a pleasure center, the nucleus accumbens in the brain and every time you use it for a game or something that’s pleasurable that part of the brain is stimulated,” Miliam said.
And after you get that release…
“The brain likes it and it wants more of it and it craves that,” Miliam added.
That’s when doctors say some will get hooked.
Phone addiction can bring about negative relationships, family issues, lower productivity at school and work, and a withdrawn personality.
Remember Gretchen? She hasn’t been diagnosed with nomophobia or cell phone addiction but has dealt with some of those symptoms.
“My parents are always like, why are you so much on your phone? Well I don’t think about it, I just do it. It’s become such a natural thing for me,” Goldsmith said.
There are ways to stop those urges though.
“Ask yourself, how much am I using my phone? And what am I using it for?” Milam said. “Speak out if someone you love, a friend, a family member is so distracted by being on their phone that they’re no longer engaging with you.”
Experts say it’s normal to be attached to the technology that keeps you connected.
“I access my work email, my personal email, my social media, pretty much everything from my cellphone,” Jessica Blackwood said.
Most people today have a cellphone that rarely leaves their side. In fact, cellphone usage is at an all-time high, with 91 percent of adults owning one, reports the Pew Research Center. While the technology has drastically improved many aspects of daily life, the cost of devices and service plans – as well as the complex contracts – leaves many people feeling like they’re being hustled.
T-Mobile believes you have a right to know about the commonly believed misconceptions about the cellphone industry that are causing people to spend more than necessary. Get the facts by learning the truth about the most common cellphone myths.
Myth: One late payment won’t affect your credit score
Reality: It doesn’t take much for your credit score to take a hit. One late payment can stay on your record for up to seven years. Because most of the top wireless carriers use your credit score to judge whether they should give you the best deals, that means one bad decision can haunt you years later. First, always make it a priority to pay your bills on time. Second, look for a carrier that considers more than a credit check to obtain the best deals.
Myth: The advertised deals from carriers are for anyone
Reality: Wireless carriers spend $4 billion advertising their “best” deals on smartphones, yet in reality, more than half of Americans cannot get the deals because they are reserved only for those with the “best” credit. According to the Consumer Federation of America, credit score plays a “vital” role in many purchases. The new Smartphone Equality initiative from T-Mobile allows anyone with a monthly voice plan who pays their bills on time each month for a year to qualify for their best deals – zero down, no interest and no credit check.
Myth: Almost all American adults have a smartphone
Reality: At a time when mobile connectivity is sweeping the globe, the United States ranks 13th in the world in terms of smartphone penetration – behind a dozen countries including Australia, Israel and Saudi Arabia. There are more than 100 million American adults who don’t have a smartphone according to Pew Research and the U.S. Census Bureau. A smartphone paired with the right plan for your needs can keep you connected and benefit your budget. Furthermore, many people choose to eliminate land lines and sometimes even Internet service at home to save and then solely rely on their smartphones to stay connected.
Myth: You pay more for smartphones with no-contract plans
Reality: Consumer Reports states it’s cheaper to buy a phone through a no-contract plan. Why? Because you finance the phone separately from your wireless service and therefore once it is paid off, your monthly bill can decrease. You will not continue to pay a higher amount after that time – unlike an annual service contract plan. Research popular no-contract prepaid and postpaid plans, like Simple Choice from T-Mobile. Loyal customers can immediately qualify based on their relationship with T-Mobile, making T-Mobile’s best wireless deals more accessible.
North Korea has begun censoring and monitoring domestic cellphone calls, the non-profit Radio Free Asia reported.
The State Security Department’s Bureau 1080 has been charged with observing legally used cellphones, and has the power to confiscate and censor the devices at will, Radio Free Asia, based in Washington, D.C., said. North Korea has a single government-approved cellphone service provider, Koryolink, whose service is available in 14 percent of the country’s territory and to 94 percent of its population. Cellphone costs, though, in the impoverished country have left the service beyond the reach of most North Koreans.
Many cellphones in North Korea have been smuggled in from China, to be used near cellphone towers in China at its border with North Korea.
Citizens’ cellphones are typically seized and checked for “politically inappropriate” content, a joint report by Johns Hopkins University’s U.S.-Korea Institute and Voice of America said, adding all cellphone conversations in North Korea are recorded by government agencies.