by Zandrija Heyns

How many times have you been on your phone in the last hour? Too many to count?

Let me make it easier for you: How many times have you been on your phone in the last thirty minutes?

I am guessing the number is high. I should know, because at this very moment I am watching some or other Netflix series.

According to a study published by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association),  teenagers’ average screen time has increased from 3,8 hours a day, pre-Covid, to 9 hours a day. That means the number has almost tripled in the course of a year! Yet, the healthy amount of screen time a teenager should get is only 2 hours! And the amount of screen time that categorises you as addicted is 5 hours a day!

You could say that your phone is the worst drug and the easiest to which you can get addicted. The result of this addiction can be seen in the workplace. Older employees work with their phones lying face down next to them, while younger employees’ phones are face up and they are checking them constantly.

According to ScienceDaily, researchers at the NYU Langone Medical Center, say they have added to evidence that a shell-shaped region in the centre of the mammalian brain, known as the Thalamic Reticular Nucleus or TRN, could be responsible for the ability to multitask routinely and seamlessly. The process is done by individual TRN neurons that act like a ‘switchboard’, continuously filtering sensory information and shifting it to senses like sight, while blocking out other senses that could be distracting, like sound.

They conducted a study on mice, where they exposed half of the mice to the countinuous flashing light that is emitted from our devices daily and the other half were not exposed at all. Afterwards, the mice had to move through a maze. The researchers found that the mice that were exposed to the lights completed the maze three times more slowly than the mice that were not exposed. They also found that the damage the lights inflicted, was permanent.

Our generation uses technology for almost everything, but the downside is that it has become unmanageable. Do you know that most of the time when you speak to someone, you will have your phone in your hand or someplace where you can see it? It gives the other person the impression that you think they are not important, and it immediately creates a barrier between you.

Do not be a slave to technology. When you hear your phone screaming for attention, put it away and live in the moment. Be in the here and now, because it is where memories are made and relationships are formed. Next time when your conversation ends in an awkward silence, tell a joke, as this will get people laughing and it is a proven fact that laughter can alter dopamine and serotonin activity. These endorphins that flood your brain will make everything less uncomfortable and it is better than the fake dopamine produced by being on your phone.

The choice is yours. Save yourself or give in to the temptations of the silent manipulator.