Fitness + Well-being

Technology addiction may be a bigger problem if you're a woman

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Do you constantly check your smartphone, even if it doesn’t ring or vibrate? If so, you may be “addicted” to your device, and, if you’re a woman, you’re more at risk, a small, observational study suggests.

Researchers at Binghamton University-State University of New York surveyed about 180 college students on their smartphone use for the study, which was published in this month’s edition of Information Systems Journal. Next, study authors divided the participants into one of the following groups: Thoughtful, Regular, Highly Engaged, Fanatic and Addict.

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Seven percent of the recipients were classified as “addicts,” while 12 percent were dubbed “fanatics.” As a result of their excessive smartphone use, these groups faced problems in their personal, work and social lives. Ultimately, those issues may point to mental health troubles like anxiety, depression and social isolation, the researchers reported.

Overall, women were more likely to use their smartphones excessively, suggesting what the paper described as addictive behavior.

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Although technology or smartphone addiction is not a classifiable term under the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), some therapists recognize this type of addiction as a legitimate concern. Studies also show that using our smartphones triggers the pleasure hormone dopamine, which has been tied to other known kinds of addiction. Yet, some experts argue excessive smartphone use isn’t a problem unless the person and his or her family and friends think so.

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Isaac Vaghefi, assistant professor of management information systems at Binghamton, and one of the authors of the current study, said in a news release that, in addition to excessively checking your smartphone, you may have a problem if: you use your phone as a source of relief from unpleasant feelings, get paranoid if your phone isn’t with you, or ignore real-life happenings because you value virtual reality more.