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Can too much cellphone use cause loneliness and depression?

by Ron Poblete

Do you ever get the feeling that you might be using your phone too much?

It’s like an extra appendage you can’t get rid off. You carry it around almost anywhere you go. You wake up and go to sleep with it. Chances are, you spend more time with it than your life partner. 

Following the old adage that too much of anything is bad for you, we need to look into the bad effects of phone use or screen time on your psyche and well being. 

Loneliness and depression

The pandemic drove up social media usage substantially in the last couple of years and this has resulted in more sad people especially among the young. 

Spending too much time trying to escape using a gadget that is practically planted in your hand spells trouble. The dreary reality of forced isolation has become a major mental health issue. 

A study published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2018, surveyed young adults and found that excessive social media use was associated with increased symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The same study also found that people who are predisposed to feeling lonely and depressed may use their phone excessively as a coping mechanism. 

It’s important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the extent of these effects and the relationship between cell phone usage and mental health.

But for now, assume the worst.

Decreased face-to-face communication skills

It can get annoying at times when someone in a social gathering doesn’t give you their full attention because they are busy looking at their phone. 

There is no shame in admitting that you’ve done it a couple of times just because it seems involuntary. But it could save valuable time if you are called out just to snap you out of it. 

College students were surveyed in the United States and it was found that excessive cell phone use was associated with decreased face-to-face communication skills and increased feelings of isolation, according to the Journal of Social Psychology in 2017. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Arizona.

Remote possibility of causing brain cancer and tumors

You perhaps have heard of this before. And like junk food, you know that using cellphones may have an unhealthy effect on your body and yet you can’t stop doing it.

A study on the potential link between cell phone usage and cancer was published in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives in 2011. The study was conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP). 

The study exposed rats to radiofrequency radiation (RFR) similar to that emitted by cell phones, and found a higher incidence of tumors in the heart and brain of the exposed rats. 

However, it’s important to note that the exposure levels used in the study were much higher than those typically encountered by people using cell phones and the results were not conclusive.

Moderation is key in this one for sure. 


Is there really such a word, one might ask.

A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Addiction in 2019 found that excessive cell phone use can lead to “nomophobia” or the fear of being without a mobile device, and can also lead to addiction-like symptoms such as withdrawal and tolerance.

This explains the agitation that follows after forgetting your phone in the car. 

There is always something new to learn every time. 

Suppression of melatonin

Sleep, as you well know, is essential in maintaining a sane mind and a healthy body.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in 2019, found that the use of electronic devices at bedtime was associated with shorter sleep duration and increased insomnia symptoms among adults.

The blue light emitted by cell phone screens can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, making it harder to fall asleep and can lead to sleep disorders.

Start limiting and scheduling your screen time as much as possible 

We should mention that excessive usage of any device can have negative effects. 

You will have to balance phone usage with other activities and to set limits and boundaries to use them in a healthy way.



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