The world of technology and smart phones is developing
and advancing in a rapid speed and we, the users are delving deeper into this
world at a quick rate. In this scenario, the latest companion of our life – smartphones.
can be an aid in being socially connected or can become an intervention and a
substitute to face to face interactions and communications, thereby paving way
for social isolation in the real world. This term paper tries to draw a
relation between smartphone addiction and social isolation, and answering the
main contradicting question of whether it is phone addiction that leads to
social isolation or vice versa. The main focus group in this study are
teenagers (belonging to the 12-19 age group), since they are a prominent user
group and also with varying levels of social association and growing mental constructs.The
analysis of exiting researches and studies prove that, though for a small
percentage of people, social isolation may be the actual cause of being attached
or addicted to phones, usually the larger percentage of connection between the
two factors is the other way round, where increased phone usage is actually entangling
the teens and promoting social isolation and depression in them.
addiction, Social isolation, Smartphones, Teenagers
The ever changing world of technology has made substantial
difference in the ways in which we interact and socialise. While the modernised
ways of communication has helped to a certain extent in establishing and
maintaining social connectivity, it has also affected the process negatively.
Various links between many mental aspects like depression, anxiety etc and
technological invasion has prompted another question: if one of the underlying
cause of such mental states – social isolation, has links with the rising
addiction to the technology always present in our hands- the mobile phones or
the smart phones.
Social isolation, is a state in which an individual
lacks a sense of social belonging, true engagement with others, and fulfilling
relationships. (nicholson, R. A review of social
isolation: an important but underassessed condition in older adults. J Prim
Prev. 2012; 33: 137–152) The
construct of social isolation includes both objective social isolation—the
actual lack of social ties—and subjective social isolation—the feeling of a lack
of engagement with others. These facets of social isolation are related but not
the same. (Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith,
T.B., Baker, M., Harris, T., and Stephenson, D. Loneliness and social isolation
as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic review. Perspect Psychol Sci.
2015; 10: 227–237)
It is evident that the isolation related to phone
usage can be objective as well as subjective and vary according to the usage
patterns, circumstances and individuals involved.
Now, focussing on phone addiction: in the recent past,
the addiction landscape has shifted from alchohol, smoking, drugs etc to
gadgets and most importantly smartphones. Smart phone addiction is not merely
about excessive texting or talking, but extensive usage of various apps, social
media, video viewing, games and a lot more than simple dependency on a gadget-
the life starts chronicling around this one piece of technology and the life
and time spent in virtual world surpasses the life and time that ought to be
spent in the real world.
Though innumerable researches have been carried out
since years regarding phone usage, internet usage and technologies affecting
academics, aggression etc, very limited relevant research is available for this
association of smartphones and social isolation. Social isolation also is known
to be associated with unnatural increases in cortisol patterns, and these
aberrant patterns can disrupt sleep, immune function, and cognition. (Pantell,
M., (Rehkopf, D., Jutte, D.,
Syme, S.L., Balmes, J., and Adler, N. Social isolation: a predictor of
mortality comparable to traditional clinical risk factors. Am J Public Health.
2013; 103: 2056–2062).
Since the effects of social isolation is found to be
significantly detrimental to health and an increasing link between excessive
phone usage and social isolation is assumed, it becomes necessary and rational,
to draw a research backed conclusion about the extent and pattern in which both
of them are related to each other, or if and how one of the factor influence
the other or vice versa.
For the aforementioned assumption to be evidently concreted,
this term paper has been crafted after a careful analysis of different sections
and segments of various existing researches and studies. The studies, that as a
whole are non-specific to the topic discussed in this paper, but have segments
relevant, backing and enhancing the information on this topic of interest have
also been considered and analysed, so as to have more evidences and sound
“Consciously Connecting: A Simple Process to Reconnect
in a Disconnected World.” by Holland Hails describe technology as
“the new 21st century addiction”.
According to a news article published on CNN website,
a poll involving 1,240 interviews with parents and their children, ages 12 to
18 was conducted by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organisation focused on
helping various groups like parents and children negotiate media and
technology. In this poll, fifty percent of teens admitted that they feel addicted
to their mobile devices and 59%, parents said their teens were addicted.
For teens, cell phones have become a way to comment
and criticize, approve and admire. They are not always communicating with
friends. Often, they are commenting on their activities. They are checking for
likes and responses to their own posts.