Last week Alfonso Balmori sent me a new Spanish paper on cell phone addiction. Trying the usual Internet free translation services proved to be absolutely hopeless but thanks to an old high school friend who lives in Seville, Spain a translation is underway. Below is the first installment. I can email the Spanish paper if requested.
La adicción al teléfono móvil:¿existen mecanismosneurofisiológicos implicados?
M A R I APAZ DE LAP U E N TE: Psicóloga, Directora de Fundación Aldaba- Pro y e c t o H o m b re .
ALFONSO BALMORI: Biólogo, investigador de los efectos de lasr a d i o f recuencias en los seres vivos.
ADDICTION TO CELL PHONES: ARE THERE NEUROPHISIOLOGIC MECHANISMS INVOLVED?
At first glance we could consider the addiction to cell phones as belonging to those addictions that are substance free, also called psychological addictions. Yet, unlike these, cell phones emit microwaves that reach the brain, making investigators wonder if there could be a physiological base for such addictions.
The following article gives a brief overview of the studies made that analyze the effects that these radiation produce and that bring us closer to the possible addictive effect, similar to those provoked by conventional drugs. In them, the authors dare to sound the alarm of the abuse that young people, whose brains are still in the process of maturing, could be prey to the risks derived from their improper use, and consider that there should be specific education of the responsible use of cell phones.
Investigation about addictions to new technologies and especially about the abuse of cell phones is scarce, due in part to its great complexity and to the novelty of this social phenomenon.
There are frequent difficulties in distinguishing between normal use of a substance or a modern technology and the abuse or addiction thereof.
In general, one decides if such abuse or dependence exists, firstly by the intercity and frequency of use, secondly and more objectively by the amount of money invested in it, and thirdly by the level of interference that this process has on family, social and work relationships of each individual involved. In this manner, the interference, or significant restriction in the integral development of the individual would co-react with the level of compulsion or the partial or total control of its use, as a common trait described in any implicit activity would reflect in limiting the freedom or dependence of the individual.
Furthermore, when we speak of addiction, we’re referring to the existence of compulsive behavior or of behaviors that aren’t controlled by the individual that distance him from his normal actions. The manuals most commonly used to classify and diagnose mental and behavioral disorders (DSM 4,CIE 10) coincide in considering “substance dependency” as a group of behavioral, cognitive and physiological phenomenon that develop after the continuous use of a substance that typically include: an intense desire to consume the drug, difficulties in controlling it consumption, persistence in this consumption in spite of the harmful consequences, prioritizing consumption of the drug above other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes, signs of physical abstinence. Other concepts, such as use (occasional, frequent) abuse and addiction complicate and tinge the diagnostics.
NEWS AND POLLS
With increasing frequency the media brings up news about “addiction” to cell phones. Studies based on polls and observations made in different countries reach the same conclusion: young people particularly and their cell phones have become inseparable. According to the latest studies, one of every three teens admit to being “hooked” by their cell phones.
The conclusions of a study elaborated by the office of Defense of the Minor of the Comunidad of Madrid in the year 2004, by the organization “Protégeles” (Protect them) based on a poll taken of children and adolescents between 11 and 17 are that “In absence of their cell phone, the syndrome is a reality that can be confirmed and measured, not an exaggeration. 38 percent of those young people from Madrid were said to feel “upset”, “overwhelmed” or that they “felt awful” if they couldn’t use their cell phone, normally due to punishment or to its breakdown.
According to the specialists the abuse of the use of cell phones could be typified as “a disorder of addiction that has to be stopped as soon as possible” (Paniagua, 2005)
The Consejería de Sanidad de la Comunidad de Madrid (Social Security office in Madrid) through its Anti-drug agency, has recently introduced, within its program of preventing drug addiction destined for schools of this region, a pilot project entitled, ”Preventing addictions to New Technologies.”
A study by the University of Navarro affirms that young people between 15 and 19 admit being addicted to their cell phones (Naval et al., 2004)
Another study developed far from Spain, in South Korea, demonstrates tat the youth of that country suffer dependency from technology and that 30% suffer from confusion and transitory depression when they can’t use their cell phone.
Last but not least, British scientists have decided that more and more people are getting addicted to their cell phones, causing stress and irritability (BBC, 2006). Dr. David Sheffield, from the University of Straffordshire, has found behavioral problems related to the use of cell phone among the 106 individuals studied. About 16% of those interviewed had a behavioral problem due to the use of cell phones. The results demonstrated that when there is a reduction in the use of cell phones, there is a lowering of blood pressure.
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