Though smartphones provide the instant gratification of having everything accessible less than a few seconds, recent studies have shown that regularly using a smartphone can lead to a decline in happiness.
To avoid any possible negative effects, users need to be more aware of the ways that social media, lack of interpersonal conversations and extended use of smartphones can impact mental health.
Direct communication has been proven to increase happiness among individuals, but because of smartphones, such interactions are becoming a rarity.
In a study conducted by the University of British Columbia and the University of Virginia, 304 people were asked to have dinner with friends or family. Half of the people could not use their phone during the meal while the other half could. The study found that users who were allowed to use their phones were less interested and experienced more boredom than the group that could not use their phone, engaged in conversations with others.
In the second experiment, 123 people were asked at random times throughout the day what they were doing via text message. They were asked what they had done in the last 15 minutes, and how they were feeling. The people that responded to the text while they were in the middle of a face-to-face interaction reported to be less interested, distracted and bored. In addition, the interactions these people had were said to be less emotionally rewarding.
However, these results aren’t just seen in studies that analyzed people’s subconscious thoughts and patterns. Students on campus shared similar ideas.
The solution is simple: users have to reduce the amount of time they spend on smartphones. Putting down the phone and engaging in more real-life social interactions could bring a big boost to happiness, especially during a time where social interaction has become more limited.
Altering the types of content that appears on social media timelines could also have beneficial effects on mental health. A social media spring cleaning is something that users can do regularly to eliminate any online negativity that could affect their happiness.
Carlos Sanchez, a sixth-year chemistry major said that by stepping away from his phone he could engage in more hobbies.
Ditching the phone and finding new activities to do is a great way to avoid a decline in happiness. If users are able to minimize the use of their smartphone to when they actually need it, instead of using it to kill time, more people will find themselves happier.
The next time someone may be feeling down, the simplest way to feel better could be disconnecting from their smartphone and connecting with their surroundings.