Smart phone menace: Devices now turn babysitters

Report by: 
ZEENATH BIBI
Port Blair
12 Jan 2019

Look around you. Addiction to mobile phone is spreading fast and furious and has taken proportions of an epidemic in these islands too.  There is a considerable debate on addiction and abuse to Smartphone among adolescents and its consequent impact on their health, not only in a global context, but also specifically in the Indian population. Users are multiplying every nano second, so are game platforms to lure them. Not just adolescents, mothers of new born babies are also becoming increasingly addicted to mobile phones these days.
For instance, mommies owning smart phones have started using the device as babysitters in these islands like in other parts of mainland for pacifying bawling babies with musical cartoons, nursery rhymes or games. By the time, such infants grow up, they will be as much addicted to the screen as the generation preceding them. While mobile phones have virtually taken over the lives of teenagers with boys and girls spending a good two hours with the device, there are those whose engagement can stretch beyond that duration, signifying a deepening of addiction. Surveys conducted by medical experts confirm that children who spend more than two hours with phones have low grades as they suffer from lack of concentration that manifests in their inability to pursue studies diligently. Difference in behavioural patterns can also be noticed among kids who spend two hours or more on the phone and those who use it for less than an hour.
A study conducted by Australians researchers last year revealed that Smartphone addiction has been the root cause that affects the productivity and well-being of the individual; physical and emotional. The study revealed that one-third couldn’t resist the urge of checking their phones once in a while and had pangs of anxiety when unable to do so, 34% tend to lose sleep, 40% felt disoriented without a smartphone and more than half of the students stuck to their smartphones while doing other things. Another research work titled “Smartphone Dependency, Hedonism and Purchase Behavior: Implications for Digital India Initiatives', by Aligarh Muslim University and funded by the Indian Council for Social Science Research, New Delhi found that anxiety and fear of missing out on information make university students check their mobile devices as many as 150 times in a day on an average. It also found that people are dominantly using smartphones for non-functional or non-calling purposes such as accessing social networking sites, Google searches and for entertainment such as watching movies on YouTube etc.
“Research studies clearly indicate that addition to smart phone may have serious consequences on the health and academic performance in the long run. Experts recommend the daily usage limit for especially teens at 2 hours a day. Games like Blue Whale have taken many lives, so have social networks with fake news and trolling. The addiction of people to their mobile phones and games is a threat to the society and its delicate tapestry. Parents, students and teenagers in the islands too are falling prey to mobile games at an alarming rate. Especially young students are glued to their smart phones their studies. In times to come very soon relationships will go for a toss as it happening in mainland and abroad. Awareness generation measures should be embarked upon to educate people about the harm of mobile addiction. Now even mothers are letting their newborns to get into smart phone addiction. This is alarming and serious awareness generation programmes should be conducted to sensitize people on the bad effects of excessive use of mobile phones,” said a member of an NGO working in the field of Health and Lifestyle.