Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying that both millennials and smartphones have become staples of our everyday lives. The newer generation may seem particularly more attached to these handheld devices than those of us who remember a time when the only way to reach someone was over a landline number.
But just how severe is this apparent smartphone addiction and what’s the psychology behind it? Moreover, is it just a harmless sign of the times or a foreshadowing of something more sinister in store for the future?
Millennials Think of Smartphones as a Lifeline
A survey conducted by the app Visible found that around 77 percent of smartphone users in the U.S. between 18 and 34 years of age would be willing to give up caffeine for a week rather than their phone. Yes, it’s gotten that serious.
But is it really that surprising when you consider that smartphones act as lifelines for people who fall within this age group? Apart from using it to keep in touch with family and friends the world over, they also keep us connected to what’s going on in the outside world, delivering news at the tap of a touch screen.
Smartphones = Portable Boredom-Banishing Machine
Another common reason why millennials are so reliant on smartphones is that in a world that’s constantly on the go, there’s no time to waste stopping and staring. Even in situations where people might be required to be idle for a while, like on your daily commute to work for example or while waiting in a queue, millennials have found smartphones to be the perfect time-killer. No second is spared when you’ve got a trusty device glued to your palm and always ready to entertain you.
The popularity of apps has also contributed to this trend, with millennials downloading every type of app imaginable to make their lives easier. Whether it’s online banking, creating a sleep schedule for their pets or coming up with new dinner recipes, you can be sure there’s an app for that. While social media apps remain the most popular to be downloaded, sites and apps dedicated to mobile gaming and travel have also been gaining ground over the past few years.
Smartphone Separation May Lead to Severe Effects on Millennials’ Cognition and Emotions
The connection between reliance on technology and rates of depression has long been debated, with studies showing that those who spend more time on their phones are also more likely to suffer from mental health issues than those who engaged in more off-screen activities.
Additionally, ‘nomophobia’ (no mobile phobia) has also been classified as a legit condition for those who can’t go more than a short amount of time without having their phone within arm’s reach.
One study also found that participants who weren’t allowed to answer their phone as it rang when they were supposed to be completing a puzzle, had “increased heart rate and blood pressure” as well as “self-reported feelings of anxiety,” showing that smartphone separation also leads to physical side effects.
Living in the Moment is Overlooked by Millennials Addicted to Smartphones
Despite millennials’ other common obsession known widely as FOMO (fear of missing out), millennials are in fact sadly missing out on a lot thanks to their constant fixation on their screens. Instead of enjoying things like dinners, concerts, parties or other social events, they have this nagging need to document and upload it for everyone to see what they’re up to. It’s almost as though if it doesn’t show up on your Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram feed, it just didn’t happen.
In order to overcome this preoccupation, experts have suggested finding a balance between recording and broadcasting every interesting aspect of your life on social media and really immersing yourself in the moment, to be able to appreciate it all the more.
Let’s face it, expecting millennials to cut off completely from using their smartphones is just unrealistic in this day and age. Nevertheless, setting aside a couple of hours per day to literally disconnect from the trappings of smartphones and the online world would definitely do wonders in creating a more mindful and self-aware group of millennials who aren’t so blindly dependent on technology. Hey, it would also go a long way in setting a good example for generations to come.