Last week, Apple announced a new generation of its hallowed iPhone and millennials everywhere collectively came unglued.
Twenty-somethings scrambled to scrape together pennies, max out credit cards and cash in financial aid refunds to preorder the new phone that comes out Sept. 19. The palpable desperation to have a finger on the pulse of technology is an indication of the present, and disturbingly intimate, addiction millennials have with their devices.
A recent study released by Baylor University, published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, examined 24 cellphone related activities from 164 college students and found that women spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cellphones while men spend about eight. Of the activities measured, applications such as Pinterest and Instagram were significantly associated with an addiction to cellphone use.
The idea of cellphone addiction might seem melodramatic but evidence suggests it’s real and here to stay. Fitness magazine reports a recent survey found 84 percent of the world’s population said they couldn’t go a day without using their cellphone and two thirds of teens and adults checked their phones every 15 minutes.
The American Psychiatric Association recognizes behavioral addictions as diagnosable if there is sufficient research to support the existence of addictive qualities. The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not yet recognize cellphone addiction as a diagnosable disorder, however some feel treatment is still necessary.
Morningside Recovery Center in California has a treatment program where patients surrender their mobile devices and are permitted limited access. The treatment program aims to cure what they call “nomophobia” which is identified as stress and anxiety that results from separation from mobile phones.
James Roberts, lead researcher in the Baylor University study, said he believes society’s addiction has been woven into the daily lives of many and has become an “invisible driver of modern life.” Undoubtedly, society has become a slave to the device that was once seen simply as a tool, but now as the sole link to the world.
Technology is a very critical instrument to remaining relevant in the world today. However it creates anxiety and enables users to reject the real world in favor of a virtual existence. As the world increasingly becomes digital, the role of technology could have greater negative effects. Think about the real world consequences the next time you’re pretending to tweet while you dodge that guy you met on Tinder.
Brandon Shaik is a senior majoring in psychology.