Birches NEWS No. 75. Diagnoses

The dark side of the digital world – does it exist? Can a smartphone turn a healthy person into a psychopath?

Smartphones. Friends, you and I have already seen or read almost everything about it. We read smartphone reviews on our smartphone, we read all reviews on all smartphones and read all reviews on all smartphones. We read all reviews using all browsers and read about all browsers on all smartphones. We communicated in all social networks on all smartphones, and wrote about how smartphones are changing our lives. We have tried everything. Looking into the past, for all these years of IT development, we cannot understand only one question, only one question has not yet received an answer – how does a smartphone affect a person's mental health?

Birches NEWS No. 75.  Diagnoses

Image source

In addition to the obvious benefits, expressed in simplifying the receipt of any kind of help, from information to medical, smartphones cannot but have a negative impact on a person's mental state. The smartphone has become too important, it takes up too much space in our lives. Anyone who has unexpectedly broken or lost a smartphone should remember this agonizing state of being left without hands. As if you are in an armored capsule, completely isolated from the entire information field, to which we have become accustomed over the past decade. Other netizens are as happy as children playing with each other on a green lawn, and you, as punished by severe parents, are locked in a remote shed, without windows or doors. A way out of this stressful state is easy to find, it is buying a new smartphone, but what exactly happens when you are away from your smartphone for a short time or with irregular use? And with regular use? How deep did the smartphone get into a person? Let's talk about this.

Predictors of depression and anxiety

Lebanon and Arab countries

In August 2017, an interesting study was published among students of the Lebanese University. It was conducted by representatives of the teaching staff of another university, Jocelyn Bumosle and Doris Yaaluk. The sample consisted of 668 students, 53% of whom were men, and the average age of all participants was 20 years. Those who like to dig into the details can dig into the original material, and we will simplify a little, so as not to help anyone write a dissertation for free.

Birches NEWS No. 75.  Diagnoses

Lebanese professors. Left to right: Doris Jaalouk and Jocelyne Matar Boumosleh

So, the subjects were offered theses with which they had the right to agree or not, the results were generalized and brought to a general form. You can see some of the results below:

In the right column, in parentheses, is the percentage of those who agree with the thesis.

The results of the study are scary – more than 30% of experimental subjects are ready to endure insomnia, headaches and censure of others, just to continue using their best friend, who replaced mother and father, a smartphone. At the same time, about half of all respondents agree that the influence of a smartphone on a person will only increase, and they are ready for such a development of events (section 'Tolerance' in the original study). Sounds like drunkenness, doesn't it? When 0.5 liters have already been drunk and it is necessary (just necessary) to run to the store for an additive, although the brain does not consider this a good idea. And the most unpleasant thing is that the effects of a smartphone on a person depend little on the age of the user and the opinions of others.


Similar studies were carried out in the United States. Researchers (all with advanced degrees) Andrew Lepp, Jacob E. Barkley and Aryn Karpinsky asked the question – how, in fact, should they relate to the fact that students stick out in smartphones during classes? On the one hand, maybe they are looking for additional information on the topic there, but if they are just having fun there? The research was carried out in a similar way as in Lebanon, only the emphasis was on academic performance and satisfaction in life.

Birches NEWS No. 75.  Diagnoses

The results were quite predictable. You take away a student's smartphone – he begins to suffer, but it is better to study at the same time. You don’t take away your smartphone – the student is happy and satisfied with life, but he studies worse. It's good that in all decent universities, the use of smartphones during classes is officially prohibited, this gives hope. “Students, you must understand that brain pumping is always accompanied by pain, if it is not, then it does not happen,” their entire study shouts.


Nomophobia (from 'no mobile phone phobia') is a mental disorder that has not yet been officially recognized, a pathological fear (panic) of losing access to your favorite smartphone, the presence of which is not yet a reason to reject military service.

Birches NEWS No. 75.  Diagnoses

Image by Daily Times

The first source, when they began to write about this phobia, is in 2010. This is very symbolic, because 2010 is characterized by the massive arrival of 3G in our world, the appearance of a really cheap mobile Internet and the release of Android 2.3 Gingerbread (which was already convenient to use). We can say that as soon as high-quality mobile Internet and good smartphones appeared, people immediately began to get sick with nomophobia. And the situation is getting worse every year.

Birches NEWS No. 75.  Diagnoses

In all honesty, in one form or another we all suffer from nomophobia, although not all of us express it in a vivid painful form. A vivid manifestation is always associated with the fear of an individual to be left without connection, because it affects the issue of his life and health, i.e. occurs in people who are sick with real diseases. For this reason, 'nomophobia' is not considered a separate disease, but only a 'companion' of real ones.

I'll die for the phone

Our attachment to our phones grows year after year, regardless of age, education or financial status. The cases, which I will discuss below, have already become a reality for someone, objective risks. If right now this cannot happen to us, then with a high degree of probability it will become commonplace for new generations.

Deadly rescue operation

In 2014, in China, a woman dropped a new smartphone for $ 320 into the hole of a street toilet (village type).

Birches NEWS No. 75.  Diagnoses

Image source

She called for help her husband and his mother, who were nearby. The husband and his mother sank into a cesspool and died due to the poisonous miasms. More information in the original source.

Jumped onto the tracks for my phone

In Brooklyn, a man jumped onto the tracks in front of an approaching train to pick up a dropped phone.

Birches NEWS No. 75.  Diagnoses

The driver could not stop the train in time, and the man died on the spot. A source.

Climbed on bandits with fists from behind the phone

The young Canadian left his smartphone in a taxi, but then used a security app to calculate its location.

Birches NEWS No. 75.  Diagnoses

Jeremy Cook. Source

The smartphone ended up in the hands of three men who did not want to give it away. They ran to their car, and when the unfortunate Jeremy Cook tried to chase them, he received several bullets instead of a phone. A source.

Jumped into the river for the phone

The young man dropped his phone into the Chicago River and immediately jumped to save it.

Birches NEWS No. 75.  Diagnoses

Chicago river in winter

Cold water and ice did their job, the man drowned along with his phone. A source.

All these cases show the extreme degree of dependence of a modern person on his phone. There are at least 20 cases of this kind in memory, but it makes no sense to cite them. It is important for us to know that there are already people who have developed an attitude towards the smartphone as something alive, important and close, and they are ready to risk their lives for this false feeling.

Instead of a conclusion

Please tell us about your attitude to this problem, is it there at all? Do you feel the negative impact of the smartphone on your life? Or do you prefer not to notice anything? How do you deal with your addiction? I ask you to start each comment with the words 'Hello, my name is that and I have been dependent (not dependent) on my phone for so many years.' Or just tell us about cases of abnormal behavior of a person due to his smartphone.

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