Locked in a cell

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Photo by: Lydia Estepp

The world contains over 500 defined phobias. Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. Verminophobia, the fear of germs. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, the fear of long words. A new phobia has recently become prevalent in the 21st century – Nomophobia, defined as the fear of living without one’s smartphone.  

According to a study by Psychology Today, 40 percent of people suffer from smartphone addiction. Studies show teenagers spend from four to 10 hours per day on their cell phones. Sophomore Destini Mezomo said she spends about seven hours on her phone a day, five of those hours taking place after school.

“I just enjoy being able to communicate with my friends [with Snapchat and Instagram] and see what they have been up to other than calling them on the phone,” Mezomo said. “I love listening to music [on Spotify]. I honestly can’t go a day without music.”

Phone addiction causes people to focus all their attention on their phones and not on the events happening around them. However, cell phones give people access to information about any subject they need to know.

“Unlimited information at the tips of your fingers, that is 100 times more interesting than just sitting waiting for someone to make face-to-face conversation with you,” Senior David Wells said. “I get frustrated when I can’t just look something up at any time.”

Cell phone addiction can lead to anxiety, depression, insomnia and OCD as well as impaired self esteem and work performance. Mezomo said everybody on social media has strong opinions and if someone disagrees, others ridicule them. Social media profiles can mislead people into believing things that might not ring true because of lack of verification.

“Some people don’t show the real them, they just show the appealing side of them,” Mezomo said. “They make everything seem like it’s okay, and that they have this perfect life.”

While social media platforms allow people to connect over long distances, they also hinder the development of social skills in teenagers. They limit face-to-face interactions, cause people to become impatient and create poor communication skills.

“People almost exclusively use it to sanction themselves off from the opinions and views that differ from them and instead surround themselves with people who agree with them and block those who don’t,” Wells said.

To decrease the amount of time spent on smartphones and help treat cell phone addiction, software developers have created that apps that monitor the time spent on certain apps, and a different app blocks sites to decrease the time spend on that app. However, many people do not know they have an addiction to their phone because no one talks about it or knows it exists.

“While many addictions are sated in secrecy, cell phone addictions are completely public and actively interrupt normal communication skills and attention to surroundings,” Wells said.