Do we need a break from our mobile phones?
Are we suffering from mobile phone addiction?
A report from my Facebook Live event on 12 February 2018
I specialise in counselling young people. They visit me presenting a wide range of issues connected with growing up in the 21st Century.
Prior to commencing in private practice, I volunteered at an Agency where the advice was, ‘no mobile phones’ during the counselling session. I would ask if the young person would mind leaving their phone / device outside of the counselling room, so we could concentrate fully on our work. I was struck by the number of young people who displayed anxiety at this suggestion. After some thought, I decided not to have such an embargo during my Harmony counselling sessions. It is interesting to note that hardly any young people refer to their phones whilst they are with me in a session.
I decided to read up about this ‘device separation anxiety’ and immediately found out two interesting facts:
- The condition has a name, Nomophobia; and
- Many 18-26-year-olds can only be off their devices for a couple of minutes before ‘needing’ to re-connect.
Now before you start thinking it, I am not one of those who say we could massively cut back on mobile phone use. I believe these devices have added positively to the world. But I would pose the question as to whether a re-balance might be in order, especially amongst children and young adults.
Device separation anxiety.
More people are seeing me, presenting with anxiety issues and they are so immersed in their digital world that their mental health is suffering because human-to-human interaction causes a degree of stress.
If you’re a concerned parent, how can you help your child to achieve this sensible re-balance? Here are some suggestions:
- There’s a great book called ‘Off’ by Tanya Goodin that you might want to refer to
- Create a family no phone hour everyday – perhaps around evening meal time
- Agree a time before bed when mobile phones are to be turned off. Give the brain time to rest and recover from all the stimulation and be fresh and ready for the following day
- No phones in the bedroom overnight – an alarm clock does all that is needed overnight!
In its extreme form, there is clinical evidence that a reliance on mobile phones can be an addiction in the same way as gambling is. I’d advise seeking professional help if you’re concerned.
- Be positive and set healthy boundaries for mobile phone use in your household;
- Question your own use of mobile devices. Perhaps ask your partner about their opinion of your phone use;
- Give yourself a rest from the small screen and treat your brain to some proper recovery time; and
- Finally, bullying or harassment on social media is unacceptable. Speak to someone about it. Either a family member, or if not possible, a counsellor who will listen. They can help and most importantly will not judge you.
Debs Wallace in a Counsellor in private practice. She specialises in working with young people helping them understand the world and the positive contribution that they can make to it. Contact Debs by email or call 07500 770464.