Mobile Phone The necessary evil

Dr C J John | 01-April-2014

Detailed News

The mobile phone turns 41 on April 5.  It, no doubt, has changed our lifestyle immensely over the four decades since its invention, but the impact of this inseparable device on our behaviour and quality of life hasn’t all been positive

Dr C J John
Chief Psychiatrist,
Medical Trust Hospital, Kochi

The mobile phone has made an inevitable presence in everybodys life irrespective of age and gender. It has made life smarter. Connectivity 24X7, while on move has helped the sensible ones to achieve new heights. But there are many who have become addicted to its abuse and have fallen into gutters.

The possibilities it offers are huge due to various applications in the new generation phones. Gone are the days when the functions of the mobile were restricted to texting and talking alone. The mobile phone is a multipurpose device and a mini computer. The privacy it offers is immense. Perhaps, this advantage creates more damages in the vulnerable ones and provides opportunities for the criminal minds. A secret relationship is easy now. Watching or sharing a pornographic clipping is effortless for a teenager. Even the spread of anti-social activities can be done with ease. Many create a personal and private world around their mobile phones at the cost of face to face social connectivity and human interactions.

If one takes stock of the psychological and sociological disasters the culture of abuse of this device has created, there is scope for naming a new health hazard, The Mobile Phone Behavioural Syndrome.

Mobile phone addictions

It is a reality that people get addicted to this gadget. There are certain warning signals that suggest an addiction. If you feel anxious and agitated whenever you do not have your phone in your physical possession, it is a sign. Constantly checking the phone for new texts, coupled with the compulsion to respond immediately is yet another signal. Phantom cell phone vibration or ringing syndrome is a condition when you have a false feel that your phone just vibrated or rang, and you felt it. One is compelled to look and realise its a false alarm. One keeps on doing this.

 A mobile phone addict has a tendency to ignore the person in front of him as he indulges in checking social network sites, tweets or texts. They slip into an irrational tension and irritability if they lose the  phone or connectivity. Life without a mobile phone becomes empty for them. For the mobile phone addicts, there is a disregard for every one and their own duties.

Text addicts

You can see text addicts all around. The speed of the thumb of the youngster is amazing. The repetitive thumb pressing syndrome is evident in them. They are busy receiving and sending back texts at the expense of their other duties. It may be through a chat forum of the social network sites or through WhatsApp. Interesting terminologies like Textaphrenia and textiety have been coined. Textaphrenia is the thinking that a message had arrived when it hadnt, while textiety is the anxious feeling of not receiving or sending text messages. Binge texting is when teens send multiple texts to feel good about themselves and try to attract responses.

Mobile etiquette

We score very poorly in this. It is important to lower voice in public, while talking through phone. Quite often we see people walking on public pathways immersed in conversation over mobile phone without any regard to others or the traffic. This needs to be avoided. The ideal behaviour is not to enter into a phone conversation or texting when you are in a face to face interaction.

There is a need to switch off or turn it into silent mode while in public places. Avoid using mobile phones while driving for everybodys safety. With applications  to  have social net work connectivity, there is a craze for users to take images of events by mobile and upload instantly.The quick sharing of information is a welcome step. But many do not show the commonsense or internal censorship to filter the undesirable while uploading. This can be dangerous and can be instrumental in spreading rumours that will be a threat to the peace of a community. At accident sites, there is always a crowd busy taking pictures on mobile phones leaving the victims unattended. There were incidents when mobile phone nuisance created obstacles to rescue operations. The lack of discipline in the usage of the mobile is a serious social issue. 

The exploitative dimensions

An 11th standard girl who was an above average student started scoring low marks in studies. Every day, she woke up with sleepy and baggy eyes. Class teacher also reported that she was sleepy in the class. It was by accident that the parents noticed that she was indulging in mobile phone chatting late at night. They had never given her a phone. When confronted, the girl confessed that the phone was a gift her lover about whom the parents knew nothing. She had been using this for a few months. Sleepless nights were spent on love and sex chatting, after others at home went to sleep. She had even let him come to her room and had turned the relationship physical.

She was distracted from studies and academic performance started dropping. Parents enforced strict controls. Yet she tactfully and secretly possessed mobile phones again and again. The temptation was huge.It was when the fourth phone was confiscated that the girl was brought for a counseling.

This is not an isolated incident. Several instances where the mobile phones are used to exploit girls or to initiate extramarital contacts have been reported. Maybe, these instincts are prevalent in the society. Mobile phones have made expression of these instincts easy. Incidents of taking nude or semi-nude images using the mobile phone camera with or without the knowledge of the victim and using it to blackmail are reported.

Suicides due to stress in such situations are also reported. There is a flood of mobile phone scripted crimes in cyber cell. Most of these cases are related to nuisance calls or texts, missed call traps, sexual exploitation and extramarital adventures.

Smart phones for smart life

Mobile phone today is just not a communication device alone.It is important to be vigilant that this gadget upsets the daily routines. Do not let your dear and near complain that you are always on the phone and that they do not get your care and time. Do not allow lack of trust to grow in your family due to secretive over Indulgence of the mobile phone. Energy should never be exclusively diverted to the touching and swiping of the phone screen or the pressing of its key buttons. This can be irritating while amidst a social interaction. The mobile phones are to add quality to life not to destroy it. Always be vigilant to the exploitative hooks of this gadget and resist falling a prey to it.

Let your mobile phone make you move in life constructively. Never allow it to stagnate your  life with the burden of  Mobile Phone Behavioural Syndromes.

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