Millennials and smart phones

A student scrolls through her Facebook timeline to pass the time.

Smartphones are essential to the life of many Americans, but young people may be developing a love-hate relationship with their smartphone.

According to a recent Coupofy Survey on smartphone user behavior, one in three millennials hate how much time they spend on their phones.

Surprisingly some UCF students are going on a digital detox by switching over to what many referred to as a “dumbphone.”

Evan Holsonback, junior biomedical sciences major, found switching over to a flip phone to be a significant advantage in his life.

“The main reason why I switched was because it was a really big distraction, and so my ability to focus was not very good," Holsonback said. "For example, when I would go to the library I would study for like 20 minutes and then impulsively pick up my phone. So I wanted to be able to focus for you know, two hours, three hours, four hours without being distracted.”

With 78 percent of young adults in America owning a smartphone, 58 percent of them reported to suffer from anxiety or depression as a side effect of compulsive smartphone behavior, according to Coupofy’s survey data.

As smartphones have become an essential part of daily life, experts suggest excessive use of smartphones can cause people to have mental and physical health issues at different levels.

“I think that society at large is overly dependent on using smartphones and computers, and these different tools to be plugged and feel plugged in, works almost like an artificial intelligence kind of thing,” UCF psychology professor Jeffrey Bedwell said. “It’s like they feel very insecure and incomplete without that connection or that aid to their cognition.”

Another new survey from Vox/Morning Consult poll showed that young people are the heaviest cellphone users, and are the most likely to be stressed out about the constant distraction and resulting toll it can take on their daily habits.

“Set aside periods of the day maybe one hour [or] two hours where you are gonna go technology free," Bedwell said. "And really focus on mindfulness, you know, which is a technique of just being very aware of the moment… It’s been shown, for example, empirically to be one of the most effective treatments for depression and anxiety and eating disorders, many other things."

One-third of the people surveyed reported to show sleeplessness issues as another common side-effect and feeling depressed due to uncontrolled technology habits, such as frequent checking.

“Those little minutes on your smartphone, they add up, they add up," Holsonback said. "I would spend so much time, now I don’t feel the pressure of checking my phone and I have time to do other things. I can cook and go to the gym regularly; I also read more."

However, there are others who believe smartphones and social media platforms are an asset to for their personal and professional growth.

“With social media it's easy," said Brandon Shaneyfelt, senior finance major. "There's really no excuses and not connect with your family and stay up to date on all the current events. It’s also made me more motivated and gained responsibility at a personal and professional level.”

According to the Coupofy survey, 73 percent of millennials go to sleep with their smartphones by their beds, and 82 percent check their smartphones within an hour of getting up.

"I have so much going on throughout the day, at night I catch up," Shaneyfelt said. "When I wake up, it’s my alarm clock, and then I check my emails, text my mom good morning."

Survey experts suggest there may be more to learn about the connection between smartphone attachment and compulsive behavior to understand the dangers it poses for brain development, relationships and that using your phone as an escape is connected with depression and anxiety.

Originally published Oct. 14, 2016.

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