When was the last time you were more than 10 feet away from your smartphone? Was it within arm’s reach when your head hit the pillow last night? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, fear and separation anxiety from our smartphones is so common researchers have actually given it a name: nomophobia (no-mobile-phone-phobia). I don’t have to be a behavioral scientist to recognize this while working in an environment surrounded by young adults. Heck, I have a love/hate relationship with my own smartphone.
Nielsen, the consumer consumption measurement company, reports that Americans are now browsing on their smartphones twice as much as they were just 24 months ago. And as mentioned in a previous Musing, a Baylor University study found that women college students spend an average of 10 hours a day on their phones and men spend nearly eight.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign conducted a study of more than 300 college students and found that constantly reaching for the smartphone was tied to greater risk for anxiety and depression, particularly for those who used the devices for emotional comfort. They added that this did not apply to those who reached for the phone out of boredom. In short, if you’re already an anxious person, FOMO (fear of missing out) on your smartphone can amplify the problem.
While in a meeting with the UCLA Gymnastics team, I explained to our sports psychologist how I was thinking of the tremendous stress we’re in because we can’t step away from our smartphone for any meaningful period of time. For many of us, we feel internal stress without recognizing it. The conversation turned to how it’s becoming a conscientious decision to not have our phones out and on top of the table during meals or meetings with others. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that our student-athletes had already been shifting to this smartphone etiquette (SME).
Our sports psychologist replied with a comment that made us all take pause, “In order for us to LISTEN we must rearrange those letters and become SILENT. Not just in your speaking, but in your mind.”
What most of us do when others are speaking is to consider what we want to say in reply. That’s not listening… the other person might as well be Charlie Brown’s teacher. The Listen/Silent combo is an amazing anagram that can serve as a reminder to quiet the distractions of the modern world.
Listening is powerful, especially when you consider social network feeds, messages and images are posted so others will listen and hopefully “like” or comment on them. Researchers have found our brains and body actually get a rush of endorphins every time someone does. Imagine the endorphin high others get when sitting across a table from you and, instead of staring at your smartphone screen, you’re looking into their eyes with a quiet mind and intense interest? Mennonite pastor David Augsburger is quoted as saying, “Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people cannot tell the difference.”
Here’s to adding a bit more Pause to our days as we head into this Holiday season. Add some conscious breath and thoughts of gratitude and we have the making for a powerful resolution for the New Year!