Mobile Phones and Mental Health

Most of us in society today are glued to our mobile phones. They are the first thing that we look at in the morning, the last thing that we look at in the evening and we never leave the house without them!

Mobile phones are not just used for making phone calls anymore. We scroll through social media on them, we take pictures and videos on them, we listen to music and play games on them and much much more. They have become an everyday essential to us, we think it is strange when someone does not have a mobile phone, we take them for granted and cannot seem to function without them. Yes, they are handy, yes they can be a great source of entertainment and can help pass the time when waiting in a queue or in a doctors waiting room. But could they also be damaging our mental health?

When we go out with friends and family, we cannot give our full attention when we are using our mobile phones the entire time. Imagine this…

You are having a coffee date with a friend and are talking to them about something meaningful to you. Suddenly their phone pings and they turn their attention to their mobile screen. You are still talking to them but the only response you receive now are things such as ‘mhmm’, ‘yeah’, ‘oh right’ or a simple nod of the head. There is no longer any eye contact, there are no facial expressions, you do not know what they are thinking or feeling as they are not looking at you, they are not giving you their full attention.

How does that make you feel? Sad, unimportant, as though you are a burden? Nothing positive that is for sure.

We are all guilty of this. I can hold my hands up and say that I have done this on multiple occasions. Never with the intention of being rude, never because the person is boring me… but because I am glued to my phone and when I receive a notification it is difficult to ignore it… some might say that I am addicted to my phone, as are most of us.

When you go on a dinner date with your partner, you want to spend quality time together, you want to sit down and talk to one another face to face and have a nice relaxing evening… yet mobile phones always seem to get in the way. You end up sitting either side of the table in complete silence both scrolling through social media or talking to friends online. That is not what a date should be about.

This shows how mobile phones can impact on our relationships with those around us, how antisocial they have made us over time.

What about parents, using their mobile phones and not giving their children their love, care, attention and time? I have seen children pulling on their parents coat repeating their name, trying to get their attention and their parents telling them to leave them alone because they are too busy… when in reality they are just scrolling through Facebook on the phone or texting back a friend. It is heartbreaking to see.

Years ago, if an individual was being bullied in school or in the workplace, they would come home at the end of the day and all would be forgotten. They would spend time with friends and family, watch a movie, go out for the day and they would not have to face their bullies until the next day. In today’s society, there is no escape from bullies. They come home from school and the bullying continues via social media or through text messages and phone calls. We can never just switch off!

It is important to try and have some screen-free time every day, even if it is only for one hour at a time. When we plan events with friends, especially small groups, we should try to stay off of our phones for long periods of time, enjoy the setting that we are in, give those around us our full attention and watch how our relationships grow stronger and stronger each and every time.

Children are receiving mobile phones from an earlier age too! I received my first mobile phone when I was eight years old. My brother received his when he was six! I know children at the age of five who have their own mobile phones. It is crazy how each new generation become more and more obsessed with technology.

Try to put down your phone for at least one hour before going to bed, not touching it again until the next day. You will get a better nights sleep by doing this.
Try not to lay in bed on your phone in the morning, instead, get up and have breakfast and watch something on TV or listen to the radio before going to school or work.
Try to organise phone-free events with friends and family, spend real quality time with the people that you love without being distracted by your mobile device.

What are your thoughts about mobile phones and mental health? Do you think that they are having a negative effect on our day-to-day lives? Would you say that you are addicted to your phone? Let me know in the comments below!

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