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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, Professor of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

The cell phone as an artifact and as a new way of life

Mon, 26 Feb 2018 09:13:00 +0000 Published in The opinion of Malaga

The mobile or smartphone has gone from being a mere technological artifact to an instrument with great cultural and social impact, to the point that it is changing the way we live. It is very difficult for us to find the balance between the cell phone as an accessory and the cell phone as a way of life.

Technology is no longer seen as an instrument to subdue the world; it is now presented as an archetype for man, to the point of granting it a salvific dimension.

When we forget that technology is for man (and not man for technology); when technological resources cease to be seen as a means and become an end, a dependence is created staff that often ends in addiction.

The use of cell phones has some contradictory effects. Along with the great possibility of communicating with anyone at any time, it can isolate us and make us lonely.

The problem of the "mobile-dependent" is not the cell phone itself, since it is a tool that can be used well or badly, but its misuse. Those who have control over their cell phones grow in freedom; on the other hand, those who live in dependence on their cell phones become their slaves.

The cell phone is already an extension of ourselves, of our identity, and not only in adolescence. It accompanies many people at all times and in all places, even in bed, in the bathroom, in the car and in the dining room; they are the ones who are always watching the device, waiting for any signal.

Never leaving your cell phone is now considered "normal" behavior. On the contrary, those who decide to consult it only at certain times are seen as strange and are even reproached for having answered an unimportant message average hour late.

The great attraction of the cell phone for adolescents is that it offers a supposed answer to their need for security and acceptance in the group peer group. They believe that with the cell phone it is easier to be accepted and to have friends. This belief is reinforced by a advertising that presents the cell phone as an instrument of independence and liberation.

Moderate dependence on the cell phone becomes an addiction when it becomes a compulsive and repetitive reaction. Addiction to the cell phone generates an irrepressible behavior that impels us to give up other activities, especially reading, conversation and family life. Unlike other addictions, the age at which this non-substance addiction begins is very early leave.

Many parents feel more relaxed if their children have a cell phone from the age of 12 so that they can call or be called when they are away from home. For these parents that argument is enough; they are not worried about the possible misuse of the device.

Mobile-dependent" teenagers and young adults suffer physical and psychological discomfort (anxiety, palpitations and sweating) when they forget their cell phone at home. The irrational fear of leaving home without a smartphone has been baptized "Nomophobia". The term comes from the English expression "no-mobile-phone phobia".

Experts speak of Nomophobia as the new disease of the 21st century. What is the profile of the nomophobic? It is that of a person without self-confidence, with leave self-esteem and lacking social skills.

Although adults can also suffer from this disorder, it is adolescents who are more likely to suffer from it; this is due to the fact that they spend many hours online from an early age. They are "digital natives".

Today's teenagers were born surrounded by a digitalized environment. They did not know the time when things were done with techniques that today are considered primitive. They cannot imagine other forms of communication than virtual ones. This predisposition favors that they easily go from use to abuse, especially on the tablet and cell phone, which often has a negative impact on school performance.

The educational prevention of this addiction should be done from an early age. It is not a question of systematically prohibiting children from using smartphones, but of explaining to them the importance of their correct use. financial aid much to live the new technologies in the family.

As children tend to imitate their parents' behavior, it is essential to lead by example. Parents should put family coexistence before the use of ICTs; set a time limit for them every day; encourage healthy leisure activities (games, sports, reading, etc.); help them to develop a correct self-esteem and social skills that will allow them to develop good interpersonal relationships development .