Four Ways Your BlackBerry Will Drive You Crazy

Believe it or not, the year is 2010, and if you’re anything like the four billion tech-savvy people in the world who like to stay connected, chances are that you own a cell phone. That’s right, as of 2008, the number of mobile phones in use across the globe reached four billion. That’s almost 60 percent of the earth’s entire population.

Despite the amazing features of next-gen phones like the BlackBerry, if you’re one of the 10 million business types that owns one, chances are that your pocket electronic has caused as much pain as pleasure. In fact, BlackBerries bring about more than just headaches — they can have real, measurable effects on your mental health. Heck, they might even drive you crazy.

So, for your benefit (or for a bit of a chuckle), here are four ways your BlackBerry will drive you crazy.

Your BlackBerry will make you addicted

They don’t call them “CrackBerries” for nothin’: BlackBerry devices can be so addictive that owners may need to be weaned off them with treatments similar to those used for addicted drug users, according to a 2006 study out of Rutgers University. With the ability to stay connected 24/7, BlackBerries and similar devices are fueling a rise in internet and e-mail addiction with devastating results to mental health.

But what exactly makes our BlackBerry so addictive? To understand the answer we’ll have to turn our attention to one of the most addictive gambling machines on the market — the slot machine.

Slot machines rely on what famed psychologist B.F. Skinner called “intermittent reinforcement.” It works like this: When we play slots, the reward that we seek (i.e., money) is given out only occasionally and inconsistently. Because rewards are given out at such infrequent intervals, we continue to pull the lever waiting for that little jolt of excitement that comes when we finally hit a winner.

Just like with playing slot machines, intermittent reinforcement may be what keeps us reaching for our BlackBerry, in hopes that the next random e-mail or text message we receive reveals something exciting.

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BlackBerry will disrupt your sleep

It’s no secret that a lack of quality sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health — we’ve all experienced those testy mornings where even the slightest irritant can send us screaming — but getting a good sleep isn’t exactly easy, and our ability to get some shut-eye can become complicated by having a BlackBerry.

A slew of research conducted over the past few years has convincingly shown that texting or chatting on a cell phone before bedtime disrupts sleep patterns, leading to issues of insomnia, headaches and difficulties concentrating. Even more alarming is preliminary research out of Uppsala University in Sweden that suggests that even the radiation from our cell phones is enough to stir our sleep — but don’t let that be one of the ways your BlackBerry will drive you crazy.

We have two more ways your BlackBerry will drive you crazy…

Your BlackBerry will cause you anxiety

There’s no denying that the BlackBerry is a revolutionary device. It’s a pocket-size gadget that fulfills all your communication needs. But when that same device causes addiction, increases distraction and deprives you of sleep, you can be sure that the BlackBerry will drive you crazy with stress — especially if you rely on it for your work.

Back in 2007, researchers out of MIT’s Sloan School of Management revealed their findings on BlackBerries in the workplace. What they found was that BlackBerry use has a large impact on the workplace landscape, affecting expectations of work deadlines, employee availability and notions of free time. And the problem appears to start at the top. When senior employees establish a pattern of constant communication, it quickly becomes the norm. What it all boils down to is a culture of stress in the workplace, all revolving around the BlackBerry. How’s that for revolutionary?

BlackBerry will hurt your brain

From brain tumors to insomnia, cell phone radiation is being increasingly scrutinized for its potential impacts on human health. Although the research is conflicting, the evidence is starting to lean toward some unsettling findings. With more and more studies pointing toward an increased risk, albeit minor, of ipsilateral (same side of the head) brain tumors among cell phone users, the mounting paranoia of the public is enough to drive anyone crazy. So how do we stay sane in this crazy world?

Finding sanity in a mad, mad world

With BlackBerries becoming more and more common within the workplace and life in general, the solution is one of moderation. If you can, have your workplace clearly communicate expectations around BlackBerry use. Eliminate BlackBerry use from meetings or establish regular BlackBerry breaks. When at home, try to avoid checking every time your BlackBerry beckons. When in doubt: Turn the little bugger off.