Smartphones clearly have much to offer us today.
They allow nearly instant communication with just about anybody.
They’ve got a convenient camera installed — so none of us ever needs to sling a separate gadget over our shoulders ever again.
And smartphones offer a plethora of helpful apps, various forms of entertainment, and a world’s worth of information at a moment’s notice.
But there’s plenty of evidence out there that there are other issues to beware of — here are a few that parents, families, and all of us, no matter who we are or where we are in our lives, must know.
1.) Depression and anxiety. Since 2013, there’s been a 33 percent increase in depression diagnoses.
The diagnoses for teens aged 12-17, as well as millennials, are even more shocking, with an increase of 63 percent and 47 percent respectively.
The instant and unwavering social media access provided by smartphones all but forces people, especially teens and young adults, to compare themselves constantly to others. Instagram, in particular, has become a popularity contest, as users stress over the quality of their postings in pursuit of likes and followers.
The bad news is that this a never-ending cycle: There will always be someone with more likes and someone with more followers. It has seemingly become more about social comparison than social connection, the very reason social media was founded.
Many new studies are showing that adolescents are increasingly experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. This apparent sudden increase came in 2012, eerily enough, right around the time when smartphones shot up in popularity.
2.) Addiction potential. If the correlation between mental health issues and social media use alone doesn’t scare us, this just might.
Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat require the use of the same neural circuitry in our brains as do both casino slot machines and drugs such as cocaine and nicotine.
“I feel tremendous guilt,” confessed Chamath Palihapitiva, Facebook’s former vice president of user growth, when he spoke of this issue to a Stanford University audience. He added, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works.”
This neural circuitry exploits the “reward chemical” dopamine. Just as “doing cocaine” is associated with a rewarding feeling in the addict’s mind, so, too, is receiving likes and follows in the mind of heavy social media users.
Studies show that …