Smartphone Addiction Is Real

We really have a big problem. In these past three years, I have heard too many folks saying that they want to give-up using their smartphones excessively because deep in their hearts they believe that the machine is making them and their relatives sick, yet they simply can’t. I don’t blame them for wanting to live a life of technomoderation, though. As a matter of fact, who wants to be a slave to the smartphone anyways? I don’t. Yet, for some giving up their smartphone use for a few hours a day is impossible.

What a tragedy! It is definitely possible for people to give up their smartphone a few hours each day as long as people aren’t diagnosed with cell phone addition. The issue, ladies and gentleman, is that too many of our compatriots simply don’t know they have smartphone addiction.

Let me remind you of some important statistics. Do you know that people check their smartphones an average of 110 times each day? 40% of people use their smartphones while on the toilet, 12% use their smartphones in the shower (unreal, isn’t it?), and 1 in 5 adults use their computerized devices while having sexual relations. It is not over — 56% of parents check their smartphones while driving and 75% of people have admitted to texting at least once while driving. Let me say this loud and clear. Our society is in trouble largely because of the smartphone.

Citizens of Cleveland, Tennessee, we must wake up from this modern day nightmare because if we don’t, we are going to lose another generation of Americans. We already lost one and can’t afford to lose one more. We can start fixing this problem by identifying that we are in fact conditioned to use these tech gadgets to a point of no return. Here is my advice: If you see your kid, daughter, grandson or wife constantly connected, sit down with them, have a serious conversation with them about addiction, and make an effort to seek a psychologist and work out a plan to help them to get out of this situation.   

This is the reality of our times my fellow Americans. If people want something badly enough, typically people get what they want within reason but not when fighting an addiction. I am not tired of hearing people complaining and finding excuses for why they can’t fight this monster we call the smartphone. The reality today is that people don’t wan’t to take action about their chosen behavior, even though they recognize that the behavior they engage in isn’t good for them.

I wish that our situation was different today but isn’t. Here is what I think. Listen carefully: If you really believe that staying on a machine for 9 hours a day is bad for you, get away from it without regrets. If you can’t, seek help. You only live once! We might as well live a good life of moderation and reason. Doesn’t that make sense? Good! I heard you saying, “YES, Dr. A!”

I know this proposition is complicated. It is common sense but it will take effort in order to make it work. I don’t know about you but in my book, when I put my mind into something, usually I get what I want. People should be able to get what they want by better understanding their circumstances. You deserve better, trust me. We have no other option anymore other than fighting heads on this smartphone addiction epidemic.

I will leave this article with my motto, “Use technology but in moderation.” If you can’t, please realize that you aren’t alone. Millions of people are struggling with a wide variety of technological side effects and quite frankly, they are in the same boat as you. The good news is this. We can turn this whole technological addiction around by understanding the need to seek guidance from a psychology professional when required. That’s what I think.

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Step Back From Techno Side Effects

The answer to stop this technology use epidemic is using technology in moderation not idolizing new technologies and seeing them as a cure to the problem it has created. Don’t even start — I love technology! I am not a TechnoHitler but a TechnoModerator who believes in TechnoReason in this TechnoCrazy world. We may be living a better life today in a lot of respects but in many others, our lives have taken a big turn for the worse. Take for example, the case of anxiety and depression among the youth.   

Heavy use of social media and automation is destroying our kids’ lives right under our noses and we aren’t doing anything about it. This social media madness is negatively impacting our kids as it pertains to connecting to others, quality of interpersonal conversation, illusion of popularity, and the idea that more friends on social media outlets means that they are more social. The number of research studies linking heavy social media use and issues relating to anxiety and depression are overwhelming. “Facebook Depression” is now a variable studied by researchers all over the globe. Why are we allowing these unhealthy, uncaring behaviors to destroy our children? I won’t believe you if you tell me that we need to sacrifice God’s gift to us, our children, for the sake of technology.

Let me say this straight. More technology use, especially those we find in social media, won’t help your kid or mine to be safer to the dangers of depression. Self-Harm and feelings of sadness, self-pity or “beautiful suffering” are real problems that the youth struggle with these days because of technology. By the way, it is well documented that kids who take their own lives, take it to end their pains. Look, there are a lot of benefits about social media including one’s ability to keep in touch with distant family and friends but to say that we need more technology to cure social media anxiety is non-sense to me when we know that more frequency and exposure of social media use increases the rates of depression 2.7 times.

It isn’t that complicated people. Explain to me how any technology intervention will help an envious teenager, who is seeking to be popular on YouNow, to be more popular without this teenager having to spend a considerable amount of time and money in this endeavor. It isn’t possible. This is why, ladies and gents, that many are caught in this illusion that social media will solve the problem it has created. Let me say this loud and clear. We are losing a whole generation to depression and anxiety because of social media use.

There is nothing wrong with acting responsible, people. We don’t need technology in order to communicate or entertain on-line. What we do need is to have a sit down conversation with our kids, listen and explain to them that all this technology isn’t required for them to live a good life.  I believe that is possible for us, responsible adults, to guide our children to have a more moderate life on-line and to realize that social media is simply a tool of communication. We need to do what we can to help our kids where they are so that we don’t risk losing them in the process. Depression and anxiety are real issues that we must deal with nowadays. 

Why should I, as the head of my household, allow anything including technology to influence my family for the worse? It won’t happen. I suggest to you that you take the moderate stance and protect you kids from one of the major dark sides of technology, depression and anxiety. Your kids deserve better. They don’t need anxiety or depression. They need you, not that smartphone. Got it?

Where Do You Stand In The Human Robot Cycle?

There has been a lot of talk about the side effects of technology and innovation in our society these days. Conversations relating to tech addiction, eye sight issues, stress and anxiety due to the excessive use of smartphones in our society are literally happening everywhere regardless of culture or town size. Human-machine conversations and concerns seem to be happening with frequency in the aisles of New York City to suburban Los Angeles and everywhere in between, including in our great town of Cleveland, Tennessee where I live. There have been numerous television segments produced in mainstream media condemning the excessive use of technology among the youth and thousands if not tens of thousands of articles written on the subject, published in newspapers and magazines all over the globe. I have lost count on how many artifacts have been written on this topic in blogs across the internet.  Everyone is talking about it quite frequently, as a matter of fact. 

What we haven’t talked about too much in both the traditional and informal media yet is why we are so attached to the smartphone and where do we stand psychologically in relation to it. Why are people insisting on using their smartphones rather than taking a break from it when they know that the overuse isn’t good for their eyesight. Why are intelligent people risking spending time in prison in order to hopefully capture the perfect selfie at the expense of not calling 911?

Why do professionals need to be on their smartphones “multi-tasking” during a business meeting for years on end without having anybody demanding that they put their device away? How about moms who are spending less quality time with their daughters after work in order to converse with strangers on twitter at 8:45pm? The former realities don’t make too much sense to a lot of people. It makes a lot of sense to me. I bet it will make a lot of sense to you, as well.

What if I told you that the former is happening all over the world, regardless of culture, color or creed because the more people interact with smartphones, the more they become like one without noticing. What Marshall McLuhan theorized back in 1960’s in his work, “Understanding Media: Extensions of Man” was right. As McLuhan points out, in the “global village” is definitely “numb” to the effects of technology in our society which results in many people not seeing what smartphones do to them. People are becoming like a computer but are unable to “see it.” We are on our technological devices  many hours on end and growing. It seems that smartphones the new soma substance a described in the classic book, “A Brave New World.” Elaborate… 

Here is the good news, though. There is a brand new model of human behavior that explains what might be really happening to you and others friends and family members. It is called the Human Robot Cycle. This model has four phases and operate in a cyclical and predictable fashion. The phases are: The State of equilibrium, Obsessive Computer Use Persons, Burn Out person, and the Post-burned out phase. Let me explain.

Every person is born in the state of equilibrium because human beings are not exposed to smartphones in the womb while gestation. As we get acquainted with technological innovations and are consequently given smartphone access in order to satisfy our contemporary technological needs, people unconsciously experience what I call a “process of transformation” which is the first transitory stage of the cycle. In this intermediary state, human beings aren’t in equilibrium but aren’t in the obsessive computer use persons phase either. I would ague that a person living in the state is engaging in true techno moderation since the person is using as much technology as they ae putting technology away, for the most part.

The danger is to eventually develop an obsession with smartphones, Pads and video games. With time, people eventually reach the “Obsessive Computer Use Persons” stage which is the first deep level of human disequilibrium. As more technology is infused in our lives, we pass through what I call “the human robot syndrome” period where we become even more obsessed with computer use which leads us to behave literally like how a machine would. Examples of these behaviors include a tireless call for immediacy, multi-tasking, and production. People are always doing something — chatting with their friends on Facebook while at dinner, updating their Instagram accounts while in class, broadcasting their life events on youtube live while driving to work, you name it. 

Eventually, after more exposure and frequency of computer use, people reach the “Burn Out person” or the colloquially spoken the Robotic Stage. The moment you reach this second phase, technology is the least thing you want to see in front of you. An intervention then needs to take place in order for you in order for you to regain your humanity. I call the stage “the human reversal.” Eventually, you will reach the “Post-burned out phase” where computerized devices use is minimal. The goal of the post-burned out phase is to bring people back to the equilibrium (first phase) stage where things are just fine and dandy. Typically, individuals who are in this stage would purposely use technology minimally as a means to retrain one’s body to the dangers of technology. The cycle never stops and keeps repeating itself throughout the subjects whole life. 

The Human Robot Cycle isn’t sexist or ethnocentric. Gender and nationality seems to have little to no impact on how people interact with their machine. Regardless of cultural background or nationality, tech addiction is impacting your lives maybe for the worse.  Eye sight issues, stress and anxiety due to the excessive use of smartphones in our society is a real problem. We need to be aware of that. Using a smartphone to record somebody’s death at their own expense seems immature and dangerous in our society these days. It is only by better understanding the Human Robot cycle that we finally understand where we all belong in the continuum.

Smartphone addiction real, and dangerous

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We really have a big problem.

In these past three years, I have heard too many folks saying that they want to give up using their smartphones excessively because deep in their hearts they believe the machine is making them and their relatives sick. Yet, they simply can’t.

I don’t blame them for wanting to live a life of techno moderation. Who wants to be a slave to the smartphone, anyway? I don’t. Yet, for some, giving up their smartphone use for a few hours a day is impossible.

 What a tragedy! It is definitely possible for people to give up their smartphone a few hours each day as long as these people aren’t confirmed cellphone addicts. The issue is that too many of our compatriots simply don’t know they have smartphone addiction.

Let me remind you of some important statistics. Do you know that people check their smartphones an average of 110 times each day? Some 40 percent of people use their smartphones while on the toilet, 12 percent use their smartphones in the shower — unreal, isn’t it? — and one in five adults uses their computerized devices while having sexual relations.

I’m not  finished: Some 56 percent of parents check their smartphones while driving and 75 percent of people have admitted to texting at least once while driving. Let me say this loud and clear. Our society is in trouble largely because of the smartphone.

 I’m speaking to anyone who will listen, and especially to the good citizens of our Cleveland community: We must wake up from this modern-day nightmare because if we don’t, we are going to lose another generation of Americans.

We already lost one and can’t afford to lose one more. We can start fixing this problem by identifying that we are in fact conditioned to use these tech gadgets to a point of no return.

Here is my advice: If you see your kid, daughter, grandson or wife constantly connected, sit down with them, have a serious conversation with them about addiction, and make an effort to seek a psychologist and work out a plan to help them to get out of this situation.

This is the reality of our times. If people want something badly enough, typically people get what they want within reason, but not when fighting an addiction. I am tired of hearing people complaining and finding excuses for why they can’t fight this monster we call the smartphone. The reality today is that people don’t want to take action about their chosen behavior, even though they recognize that the behavior they engage in isn’t good for them.

I wish that our situation was different today, but it isn’t.

Here is what I think, so please read carefully: If you really believe that staying on a machine for nine hours a day is bad for you, then get away from it without regrets. If you can’t, seek help. You only live once! We might as well live a good life of moderation and reason. Doesn’t that make sense? If I heard you say, “Yes, Dr. A, I agree!” … then that’s a good thing.

I know this proposition is complicated. It is common sense, but it will take effort in order to make it work. I don’t know about you, but in my book when I put my mind into something usually I get what I want.

People should be able to get what they want by better understanding their circumstances. You deserve better. Trust me. We have no other option other than fighting against this smartphone addiction epidemic.

I will close this column with my motto, “Use technology, but in moderation.” If you can’t, please realize that you aren’t alone. Millions of people are struggling with a wide variety of technological side effects. Quite frankly, they are in the same boat as you.

The good news is this. We can turn this whole technological addiction around by understanding the need to seek guidance from a psychology professional when required.

That’s what I think.

 ———

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info).

The Smartphone Is The Vice Of Our Time

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I grew up in a traditional Brazilian family where piercings, long hair on males, drugs and alcohol were heavily forbidden, especially for the oldest grandchild of the family.

Under no circumstances was I to be near such things or get together with people who made the choice to approve of any of these four things.

Looking back, I am glad that my parents raised me the way they did. I have no desire to have facial piercings or long hair or drink rum and smoke pot. The vices of my youth are probably the same vices you had as a kid, with little variation.

What if I told you that the new generation has one additional vice among these four things. It is called the smartphone!

Of course, the smartphone isn’t just a vice for the youth. It can be a vice for you and me, as well. The difference is that many of us grew up without a smartphone and we kind of know what it’s like to live without one. Your child or grandchild hasn’t experienced a life without these devices, which in many respects makes it more difficult for them to disconnect.

Do you remember when you were young and everybody used to smoke cigarettes? I do, and I hated being beside anybody who did. The good news for me was that I could just get away from smokers and live my life in peace. Today, kids can’t really disconnect that easily, because our society has made heavy phone usage the ideal.

Look, let me share something with you. I have lost a number of friends for believing in what I believe: TechnoModeration.

In the age of the smartphone, when the political left curses the right, and vice versa, and politicians fail to compromise, heavy use of computerized devices is without a doubt the ideal for many. How dare you or I say anything otherwise?

I am starting to believe that the smartphone is very much like a drug or a vice. Much in the same way that my family would disapprove of me having long hair, many today disapprove of others for those others being lesser fans of technology! People today go the extra mile to completely cut contact with you because of your stance on technology!

Listen to me: If you are not a TechnoHitler (in lockstep with blind worshippers of all things new-tech), many today may “disown” you for what you believe. How do I know? Because it has happened to me, repeatedly.

You may not believe this, as it can be a bit hard to fathom. Can you believe that some of my closest acquaintances don’t speak with me today because of my position on technology use? Sounds hilarious, doesn’t it?

Maybe I should start a telephone game with anybody who decided to give up chatting with me online because of my position on defending humanity over the machine. I would start the game with the following phrase, “It is OK to believe in technomoderation even if you are a technologist.”

In no time, many of these people — who are now so consumed by this drug we call the smartphone — would change my message to, “Ignore Luis. He talks about technology in moderation, but we — technologists — must resist him at all costs.”

What a crazy world we live in these days. From what I have read about drug use, the effects of such things make people a bit delusional. Are druggies that different from folks who suffer from the many side effects of the smartphone? Delusion is definitely a side effect of using the machine in excess, I defend.

Listen carefully: Every generation is cursed with a societal vice. The vices from the high culture of Brazil were having long hair, piercings, drugs and alcohol. Today, in middle class America, it seems that our vice is technology.

I have no problem losing friends for taking the position of technological moderation. Why? Because it is the right thing to do, and let’s face it … we lose friends there, but make new friends here.

Let me finish this column by saying this to you: “There is only one God, and His name isn’t smartphone.”

Be bold and join the movement! You don’t need to be a tech druggie to live a good life.

——— (Column published previously in the Cleveland Daily Banner)

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at luiscalmeida.info.)

Technology Overuse Is Eating Our Society’s Soul

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Technology is destroying our society from within. In this world, only a combination of discipline, along with great mentorship and an in-demand collection of skill sets, takes you places.

I am not aware of anybody who truly accomplished anything in life without having these three prerequisites.

Question: What are your grandsons doing right now to develop them? I bet they are not developing these three entry behaviors, because of technology overuse.

Really.

What have your grandsons done lately to develop discipline? I know the majority of them are not joining the military because the armed forces are shrinking dramatically. According to Politico, the U.S. Army is in a 75-year low which can have some serious consequences to the well-being of this country in the near future.

I wonder if our grandkids these days are preferring to stay at home and be on social media versus joining the military to better themselves.

Another question: Are your grandsons being mentored about navigating the intricacies of life? I don’t think so. How do I know this? Well, because only a few come to my office seeking true life mentorship. Most of them are tweeting their lives away and believing the internet can be their doctor, YouTube their teacher and Instagram their social club.

The irony is these same kids will, in the future, lead organizations. What do you think will happen to our systems and institutions 10 years from now? Pretty scary, isn’t it?

When I was 18 years old, I had to serve in an elite unit of the Brazilian Army for a period of time, even though I played on the country’s national golf team the year before.

In my 20s, my father put together a mastermind group to teach me how to win in life in an apprenticeship format. I spoke with the members of that team on a weekly basis, one-on-one. Every time I had a question about life, I was to speak with them. Thinking back, that experience was a university to me. Lucky me, I guess.

Which skill sets have they developed after high school or college? I mean, what are the things they know that will get them jobs? Today, I see kids submitting CVs to entry-level positions.

We hear that 18- to 25-year-olds are computer geniuses, yet I only know a handful who can actually program in C++ or C#.

Look, technology may be making us live longer because of advancements in medicine, but one cannot deny that our new generation’s quality of living is diminishing drastically due to a lack of skill sets. Do I think that technology is the cause for this half tragedy? Absolutely yes.

Let me share one more thing with you. When people come to the United States as foreigners, they need to go through additional hoops in order to find their place under the sun.

Even today, I still experience occasional backfire, especially when I score a big victory. People are jealous, you know? I know it, I ignore it and I live my life.

I have the discipline to write two, sometimes three, columns each week. I am humble enough to seek mentorship still today. Having the ability to handle conflict and strike back with finesse, when required, is a skill set that I have that your grandkids are lacking these days.

Do you know what I think? Technology has been a leading force in making your grandkids very educated, yet having little discipline, few mentors and diminished skill sets.  There are exceptions to the rule, but they are in the vast minority.

Let me end this column by saying this. I am concerned about the future of the United States. Technology has infiltrated our systems too deeply. We are aging. Too many adults are still living in their parents’ houses or are just barely getting by. Many grandkids are growing clueless about life, due to all these technologies that they idolize.

Read this very carefully: Technology overuse is eating our society’s soul. We are starting to see its side effects right now. They will get progressively worse unless we stop believing that technology is always the answer to our problems.

——— (Column published previously in the Cleveland Daily Banner)

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info).