SINCE the explosive appearance of the cell phone in the early 2000’s, the anomalous use of this device has called into question whether the abuse of its use could lead to addiction.
The mobile phone has created a billion-dollar industry of its own, expanding on functionality to increase users enjoyment and patronage with each company striving to outdo the other in a bid to keep their customers.
Econet (now Airtel Nigeria) launched the first GSM service in Nigeria on August 2001, ever since that very first wireless call, the total outgoing/ incoming mobile International traffic in minutes was over 1.29 billion while local and national telephone traffic (also in minutes) stood at over 45.23 billion as at 2011.
The internet is particularly a world on its own.
As of March 2012, Nigeria has the highest Facebook mobile penetration in the world with 81.2%, today every 1 in 3 Nigerian has an account on Facebook, and 1 in 5 is online on Whatsapp, More people call mobile network call centers in Nigeria for data related issues (32-36 per cent) than voice and SMS issues (25-29%), this all shows the prevalence of internet dependency on the country.
The distribution of mobile phone users according to the highest level of education shows that mobile phone usage increases with the level of education of the individual.
This is clear by the fact that more than half of the population using mobile telephones have tertiary education, followed by those with a secondary education that accounts for 24.4 per cent and individuals with no formal education only occupy 2.3 per cent.
Students depend heavily on the internet in solving assignments and updating their knowledge bank, it is, however, worthy to know that as at 2011, the American University of Nigeria, Adamawa State alone accounted for 55% of the traffic to Google services from Nigeria, that’s more than half of the entire nation’s usage.
90% of adults in Nigeria own a cell phone, and while this may not be a problem for many people, some individuals develop an addiction to their mobile devices, are you angry, tensed, depressed, irritated or restless anytime there is a network outage? Watch it, you might be addicted to your cell phone. According to the PEW Research Center, 67% of smartphone owners have admitted to checking their phone for calls or messages when their phone didn’t vibrate or ring, that is “Textaphrenia” and “Ringxiety” ― the false sensation of having received a text message or call that leads to constantly checking the device, and “Textiety” ― the anxiety of receiving and responding immediately to text messages, which is a stand-alone disorder.
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Although cell phone addiction is yet to be identified as a clinical or pathological disorder, it shares semblance to a few clinical disorders including compulsive betting.
A self-assessment guide from PsychGuides.com might help to
1. Do you find yourself spending more time on your smartphone than you realize?
2. Do you find yourself mindlessly passing time on a regular basis by staring at your smartphone even though there might be better or more productive things to do?
3. Do you seem to lose track of time when on your cell phone?
4. Do you find yourself spending more time texting, tweeting, or emailing as opposed to talking to real-time people?
5. Has the amount of time you spend on your cell phone been increasing?
6. Do you secretly wish you could be a little less wired or connected to your cell phone?
7. Do you sleep with your smartphone on or under your pillow or next to your bed regularly?
8. Do you find yourself viewing and answering texts, tweets, and emails at all hours of the day and night, even when it means interrupting other things you are doing?
9. Do you text, email, tweet, or surf the internet while driving or doing other similar activities that require your focused attention and concentration?
10. Do you feel your use of your cell phone actually decreases your productivity at times?
11. Do you feel reluctant to be without your smartphone, even for a short time?
12. When you leave the house, you ALWAYS have your smartphone with you and you feel ill-at-ease or uncomfortable when you accidentally leave your smartphone in the car or at home, or you have no service, or it is broken?
13. When you eat meals, is your cell phone always part of the table place setting?
14. When your phone rings, beeps, buzzes, do you feel an intense urge to check for texts, tweets, or emails, updates, etc.?
15. Do you find yourself mindlessly checking your phone many times a day even when you know there is likely nothing new or important to see?
The ratio of your number of YES to NO determines your addiction level.
While this guide is not meant to diagnose you, it will help you know whether or not you are becoming a prisoner to your cell phone.
Always remember that freedom not restrained leads to bondage.
Adeleke Babatunde is an undergraduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, studying Agricultural Extension and Communication Technology.