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Harmful Effects Of Gadget Addiction And Ways To Overcome It

Posted: August 22, 2019

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Technology, internet and mobile gadgets are everywhere today, and one can find anything and everything with just a click of a button. I use gadgets for almost everything – I pay bills online, I shop online, I order food from my mobile, I use Google maps extensively when on wheels, I sometimes chat endlessly with friends – forgetting what’s happening around me. It has definitely made my life much easier, but at the same time, I sometimes stop and question myself, am I overusing technology and gadgets!?

Yes, gadgets are everywhere – be it for entertainment, eating, shopping, navigation or even for personal advice. It does bring the entire world together, but don’t you think it actually creates a huge wall within one’s own home and family? With an attempt to connect to the whole world outside, we often end up drifting away from our own family. Not just this, gadgets often affect one’s physical and mental health as well, especially in children.

It’s time to stop and ponder, are we really the OWNERS of our smartphones and gadgets, or are we its SLAVES?

How does our addiction to these gadgets play out, and how can we minimize its usage and in turn reduce its impact on your family?

  • Television: Televisions these days are not mere channels which telecast news and movies and soaps, they have become “smart”, just like our smartphones. One can browse YouTube channels, watch movies on demand, stream music and do much more than just switching channels. Parents or grandparents in the family may be addicted to daily soaps. Sometimes, parents turn on the television just to stop their child’s tantrums or are fussy eaters. Too much screen time can affect us, kids in particular, in various ways.
    • Withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and irritability when they fail to watch their favourite programs.
    • Insomnia due to screen time close to bedtime.
    • Among men, it can lower the sperm count.
    • Those addicted to television can become couch potatoes, plus often get into the habit of over-eating (mainly junk), thus impacting their overall health.
  • Smart Phones and tablets: Earlier, a phone was meant only to make calls and send SMS. But as the traditional phone gradually evolved into a smartphone, it nearly became our personal assistant. It does almost everything for us. Many get hooked on to it throughout the day, thus neglecting family and people around them. Don’t we sometimes spend a lot more time than required on smartphones – be it for video browsing, or online shopping or chatting with friends and relatives? Kids pick up our habits. So it becomes the responsibility of each adult in the family to ensure mobiles or other gadgets aren’t overused.

Smartphone addiction, colloquially known as “nomophobia”, is a growing problem among young children these days. It is the fear of being without a mobile phone or beyond mobile contact. Some of the ways mobile phones can impact us are listed below:

  • Anxiety, nervous breakdown, anger, especially when one is unable to find their phone/ use it for some reason, such as the absence of a signal, or low battery.
  • Too much screen time can lead to insomnia or sleep disturbances.
    • It increases loneliness and depression. It may seem that drifting into this new world makes feelings such as loneliness and boredom evaporate into the air, but this is only temporary. It can actually make one feel worse later.
    • Mobile gadgets take you into a virtual world. Addiction to social networking, dating apps, games and messaging can lead you to the point where virtual, online friends become more important than real-life relationships. Some may go so deep that they may be unable to differentiate between the real and virtual world.
    • It is known to diminish concentration, decision-making abilities, and problem-solving skills in students. It also brings down imagination and creativity among young minds.
    • Many a time, looking at their friends’ edited, polished and fabricated pictures on Facebook or Instagram (which may not necessarily be real), kicks in comparison and kids begin to feel the grass is always greener on the other side. It’s important to make innocent kids understand that pictures shared on social media are generally taken at their best times. No one ever clicks and shares publicly a picture of a crying child, or an unkept room, or their broken family for instance.
  • Others: Please rethink if you really need devices like Wi-Fi operated lights or voice-enabled gadgets. Many are indeed upgrading their homes into “smart homes” with everything running on Wi-Fi. Most of the times, more than the actual need, we keep such gadgets to exhibit our luxury and extravagance. For me, even a fitness watch isn’t really a necessity and is only a fashion accessory. Try to use it if it really serves a purpose, because Wi-Fi and Bluetooth itself affect us in several ways. There is, of course, no strong evidence that Wi-Fi is the only culprit, and this is a controversial statement, but there seem to be two extreme opinions when it comes to Wi-Fi. One side says that it is completely safe, while the other side blames Wi-Fi to be the culprit behind headaches, fatigue and even cancer. So, why not be cautious? As a precaution step, use these devices only when you need them. Turn them off and keep it away when not in use.

I have listed below some of the ways to stay away from gadgets. I have been following a few myself for the wellbeing of my family:

  • Find alternatives to replace television with devices like a radio or invest in a good music system.
  • Make your family follow a daily exercise routine. Practice yoga, go out for a jog or do cycling. It not only helps you minimize your screen time but also helps in family bonding.
  • Another great idea that occurred to me is to get home a pet. Pet animals are a great way to kick out the gadgets. Instead of spending an hour in front of the idiot box, why not spend an hour with a cute little kitten or a puppy. Trust me, their love and mischief act like a stress buster too.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi routers and all unnecessary Bluetooth devices at night. Turn off the TV and stay away from mobile phones at least 30 minutes before your sleep time. Try to keep your phone away from you when you go to bed. This improves your sleep quality. It is also known to enhance relationships among couples and the entire family in general.
  • It’s important to set time limits for yourself and your kids. Your partner and the rest of the elders at home should be explained about how screen time can affect growing kids – in terms of both physical and mental health. Set rules, set time limits and then learn to stick to them.
  • Instead of allowing your child to be hooked to online games or dig into other mobile apps, invest in some good board games, puzzles and books. Get your child ‘addicted’ to reading. That’s one of the best things you can do for your children.
  • For all the attempts to stay away from gadgets, give them an incentive of something they love – like an occasional movie or a party with friends – thus encouraging them to further move in this direction.

It is not possible to get rid of all the gadgets entirely. But be aware of the harmful effects on you and your family. Set rules at home on the screen-time and make it a habit to turn off all gadgets before you go to sleep. As parents, it’s our responsibility to safeguard our family from the ill effects of gadgets and technology, and use it only for productivity and well being.

Image via Pixabay

I am basically a Software Engineer from Bangalore. I have worked in the IT industry

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