You might be quick to think: Addiction? Not me! There’s no WAY my smartphone is impacting my chances for a passing EPPP score! But, because nothing should stand in your way of a passing EPPP score, let’s look at what constitutes addiction if to at least rule it out.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines addiction as a:
“compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.”
Though a smartphone is not a consumable substance such as the drugs listed in the Merriam-Webster definition, the use of it can be persistent compulsive – even when use is known to be harmful.
For example, it is widely known that phone use is harmful when done while driving. Yet, the Western Cape Government’s Safely Home Initiative, #ItCanWait, reports an alarming percentage of texting while driving fatalities.
If phone use while driving is distracting enough to elicit tragedy, could it possibly be habit-forming enough to stand in your way of EPPP success?
Huffington Post contributor, Jason Gilbert, describes the global epidemic of smartphone addiction in his article “Smartphone Addiction: Staggering Percentage Of Humans Couldn’t Go One Day Without Their Phone.” Gilbert writes that, per a global survey by Time Magazine , “84% of respondents said they could not go a single day without their cell phones.” Gilbert goes on to further prove the habit-forming, and therefore addictive, powers of smartphone use by saying that “20 percent of respondents check their phones every 10 minutes.”
Northwest Public Radio’s (NPR) explores, in “Is ‘Internet Addiction’ Real?”, the argument of whether compulsive smartphone and screen use can be labeled as an addiction. NPR describes a middle school girl who fell into depression and eventually went through professional recovery:
[She] was sinking into a pattern of behavior that some psychiatrists recognize from their patients who abuse drugs or alcohol. It’s a problem, they say, that’s akin to an eating disorder or gambling disorder — some consider it a kind of Internet addiction. Estimates of how many people are affected vary widely, researchers say, and the problem isn’t restricted to kids and teens, though some — especially those who have depression or anxiety disorder — may be particularly vulnerable.
Digital addiction dually affected the happiness and school work of this middle schooler. And with further claims of the negative impact of digital addiction is psychologist Adam Alter. Alter explains how smartphone addiction has interrupted our happiness in his TEDTalk “Why Our Screens Make Us Less Happy.”
Alter explains that each day is filled with fixed tasks such as work, eating, sleeping, and taking care of kids. The leftover time that we have to do whatever we want is called “white space.” White space is time spent making the memories we’ll remember at the end of our lives. Alter suggests that white space is being taken over by screen usage.
He explains that the issue with smartphones is that they are absent of “stopping cues,” or signals that tell us when to move on. For instance, the end of the newspaper is a cue to stop reading, and the end of a weekly cable television show is a cue to stop watching and wait until next week’s episode. Smartphones, online streaming, and click bait are all absent of these stopping cues.
Alter suggests creating stopping cues for screen usage. For example, refrain from using your smartphone or tablet during activities that you do daily like eating dinner. He explains that, though you might experience withdrawal (notice that Merriam-Webster uses the word “withdrawal” in the definition of addiction), you’ll find you are more present during dinnertime conversation or altogether more aware and present even if you’re eating dinner alone.
All that to say, what does this mean for your EPPP success? If your smartphone is getting in the way of studying, it could be time to take steps towards breaking an addiction and, furthermore, time to learn how to use online study tools to your advantage.
See Alter’s full talk here: