How often do you check your smartphone? Once a day? At break and lunchtime? Every hour? Every few minutes?
Technology contributes to anxiety levels, especially in teenagers. In fact, it has been shown that when people are away from their phones and are unable to check for messages or social media updates, the adrenal gland releases the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is known as the ‘stress’ hormone, it influences and regulates our responses to stress. It also gives us the sense of urgency and irresistible urge to keep checking our phones.
In order to relieve the feelings of anxiety, the user will check their phone. It is an addiction, with the sense of relief after the ‘fix’ of checking in. Teenagers growing up in todays society have even more reasons to be anxious as they cannot go home and just ‘switch off’. With todays technology they are constantly connected whether they want to be or not. The fear of missing out and conforming compels them to stay on social media.
So many of us use our phones as alarm clocks. They are often the last thing we check at night and the first thing we look at in the morning. How many of us check our emails or Facebook before our first cup of coffee in the morning? If we see something unpleasant upon waking, how often does that set the mood for the day. For teenagers this be stressful and cause much anxiety. The stimulation is constant.
Social skills can be affected as it is easier for teenagers especially to text or talk through social media rather than to call someone on the phone or talk to them face to face.
If we can work to reduce the amount of time spent on our smartphones, the benefits can be enormous. To connect with real people in the real world and to the environment around us. To find time to be mindful and for teenagers to just be.