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  1. The effects of cellphone usage    


    Depression as a Consequence of Excessive Cell Phone Use


Subject Technology Pages 8 Style APA


Depression as a Consequence of Excessive Cell Phone Use

Depression as a Consequence of Excessive Cell Phone Use

The increased technological advances mean that the world is much more interconnected now that it ever was. One of the drivers of this connection has been the increased use of cell phones, especially when it comes to smart phones from which subscribers can connect with people from all over the world through the internet. The manner of this interconnection means that most cell phone users increasingly find themselves excessively using their cell phones for many hours every day. This has, therefore, meant that the users continue to suffer the adverse health effects that the overuse of these devices has been proved to cause. This paper assesses depression as an adverse effect of excessive cell phone usage. It interrogates how users who overstay on their cell phones risk the danger of deteriorating mental health and eventually affect themselves and those close to them.

Cell Phone Addiction

As has been already mentioned, one of the ways in which cell phones affect the users who overuse them is through depression and anxiety (Volkmer & Lermer, 2019, p. 217). A key contributor to this aspect of negative feedback is cell phone addiction. Cell phones, and particularly smartphones, have an undeniable addictive quality. Those who own these phones most likely feel they cannot do without them for even a few hours, leave alone days (Hardell, 2018, p. 139). In fact, it is because of this addictive quality that cell phone addiction has earned an entry into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Volkmer & Lermer, 2019).

For those who have followed the discussion for a long time, it is easy to see why cell phone addiction would make it into this list quite easily. Cell phone and technology addiction entails the deliberate choice to use a cell phone device in dangerous or prohibited contexts. The news of people who have drowned, fallen off cliffs or died performing various stunts just for the sheer recording of such activities on their cell phones is astounding. Those who die or suffer extreme injuries are the ones who pay the ultimate price for cell phone addiction. However, the true extent of this addiction cannot be seen in these people alone. There are millions of phone users who breach safety codes and face extreme danger while using their phones. Sometimes, this use puts the lives of other people in danger as well. Good examples are those who keep using cell phones in planes or gas stations even when there are advisories against such uses.

Besides this, cell phone addiction is also characterised by a loss of interest in other activities. This means that those who are addicted to their cell phones would pass up opportunities to engage in other activities just so they can use their cell phones. In addition to these, Hardell (2018) admits that such people have an “increased sense of irritability and uneasiness when they are separated from their phones” (p. 138). (Goldberger, n.d) stresses the impact of Hardell’s findings by admitting that they are the ones who will lose interest, fail to concentrate, daydream and generally display restlessness when their cell phones are not with them (para. 4). Cell phone addiction is also characterised by increased anxiety and loneliness when one is not able to send or receive an immediate message. When one is addicted to their cell phones, a delayed messaging ability and failure of the recipients to get the messages they send “cause them great irritability and a heightened sense of alienation” (Kuonanoja & Oinas-Kukkonen, 2018, August, p. 16). In many ways, this heightened sense of anxiety and loneliness affect the younger people and women much more intensely. These factors combine to make cell phone addiction a leading mental health issue for many people in the world today.

Using Cell Phones to avoid Negative Behaviour

Hardell (2018) admits that today, there are many sources of stressors and anxiety (p.139). Sometimes, it is difficult to find the right manner in which one can cope with all the negative feelings. For people who already have trouble regulating their negative emotions or with tendencies to suppressing these feelings, the negative feedback loop of addiction is a recipe for emotional and psychological disaster. Such people may turn to their cell phones and use them as coping mechanisms. This would be in such a way that every time they feel depressed, anxious or lonely for whichever reason, they turn to their mobile phones as a means of coping with their negative emotions. This tendency may offer helpful distraction initially, but in the long run, it is a practice that would most definitely have a negative impact on the mental health. It is a disconnection that affects many as a consequence of increase phone usage (Goldberger, n.d, para. 7)

Research by Volkmer and Lermer (2019) has shown that people who experience depression and anxiety often turn to their cell phones or even other information and communication technologies tools (ICT tools) for avoidance coping (p. 217). This is when they make use of the cell phones to temporarily distract themselves from the negative feelings they may be facing. When this practice is repeated over time for a long period of time, the person involved can be more vulnerable to mental health problems. What this cell phone addiction translates to is different from an occasional logging into the social media accounts through the phone to get through a difficult part of the day for instance through traffic. In fact, a healthy use of cell phones is actually beneficial. The negative aspect of this use is only evident when the users attempt to escape the negative feelings, thoughts and experiences therefore ending up employing the use of ICTs for the much needed therapeutic purposes (Kuonanoja & Oinas-Kukkonen, 2018, p.20).

While it is not conclusive that cell phone and technology overuse is a direct cause of depression, it is clear that when one engages in escapist and avoidance behaviours through their persistent seeking of relief from their cell phones, this fixation takes one away from dealing with the actual problems head-on. This tendency would develop a pattern of behaviour in which the original cause of stress and anxiety increases the use of cell phones, and “has the real threat of taking someone away from the healthy anti-depressant activities that include exercising, working and socializing” (Mustafaoğlu et al., 2018, p 20). Volkmer and Lermer (2019) say that when this happens, the risk of having negative feelings greatly increases (p.216). In many ways then, when cell phones take the people away from doing any productive work, then the full extent of emotional distress and mental health issues are evident.

Cell Phones and Negative Emotions

The full extent of online bullying, body shaming and mental issues has often been a subject of debates across many platforms. When one overuses their cell phones, the likelihood that they will be met with content that depresses, demeans or angers them exponentially increases (Mustafaoğlu et al., 2018, p. 16). This increased chance of having content that interferes with the mental health of such people puts them at great risk of getting depressed. Volkmer and Lermer (2019) agrees with these findings by reiterating the fact that the increased use of cell phones also mean that the people concerned are most likely having an increased use of the social media and internet features that come with such smartphones (p. 215). With an increased use of social media and the internet, the users end up stumbling upon bullies, body-shamers and other scammers whose presence online is to prey on others. When this happens, the people concerned are more likely to get depressed and withdrawn. Mustafaoğlu et al. (2018) also admit that there is also the possibility that when people have an increased use of the cell phones when they are already depressed, “there is an increased likelihood that their depression will be exacerbated by the thoughtless comments that are all over the virtual space” (p. 15).

The question that has also to be asked in this regard is whether the psychological impact is the same when one is excessively browsing over the internet using their cell phones, chatting across the online platforms or messaging their friends. The psychological inclination of most individuals would definitely make them inclined to particular usages of the phone as opposed to others. According to Kates et al (2018), it would for example be true that individuals who demonstrate signs of loneliness would tend to prefer voice calls over texting while those who suffer from anxiety would tend to prefer text messages over voice calls (p. 111). This then suggests that the method of cell phone usage is often connected to, and has “demonstrable impacts on the user’s mental health both before and after they use the technological device that they use” (Hardell, 2018, p 138).

Cell Phone Use and Sleep Habits

It is evident how the addiction to cell phones would increase the tendency of those who overuse the phones to use them at night and therefore interrupt their usual sleeping habits (Vernon et al., 2018, p. 76). Many young and old people who would go as far as using cell phones when they ought to be asleep have their sleeping patterns periodically interrupted. This then lead to negative consequences which according to Kates et al. (2018) would cause increased fatigue when the people concerned fail to get enough sleep (p. 109). This in turn leads to depression and anxiety.

For children of school-going age, the reality of calling and texting late into the night has a direct impact on their ability to concentrate well at school the next day. This ultimately has an impact on their mental health which would be at risk of a decline. When the earners cannot perform well because of perpetual failure to concentrate in class, this leads them to a path of heightened depression and low self-esteem (Kates et al. 2018, p. 108). It can therefore be seen that initial high levels of cell phone use in the early years may be a good predictor for later depression.

Elderly people who are employed and do not get enough sleep because they spend too much time on their cell phones would also suffer depression and anxiety when they fail to reach the targets of their jobs because they are too fatigued and tired. The fatigue, anxiety and mental ill health that is occasioned by the lack of sleep for such people eventually leads to depression in the long run (Kates et al., 2018, p. 111). As it has been already observed, people who get depressed as a consequence of excessive use of their cell phones would also resort to the use of their cell phones as a coping mechanism for the depression that they suffer. The overuse of these phones can therefore be a cyclic problem as far as their depression is concerned.

In conclusion, the overuse of cell phones comes with a great health risk on the users concerned. When cell phone users use their phones over prolonged time, depression may set in as a consequence. This depression may be as a result of cell phone addiction in which case the users may risk using the mobile phone gadgets in situations that may potentially be dangerous or otherwise prohibited. It may also be demonstrated through extreme loneliness and anxiety that the people would feel when they have to be away from their cell phones for prolonged time. The use of cell phones as a coping mechanism for stress, depression and anxiety may also be a recipe for even greater depression. When people turn to using their phones to run away from actual solutions to their problems, then it may eventually be a contributor to further depression. In addition, excessive use of cell phones is also a proved source of interruption with normal sleep pattern and behaviour. This would lead to perpetual stress and depression.



Goldberger, P. (n.d). Disconnected Urbanism

Hardell, L. (2018). Effects of mobile phones on children’s and adolescents’ health: A commentary. Child development, 89(1), 137-140.

Kates, A. W., Wu, H., & Coryn, C. L. (2018). The effects of mobile phone use on academic performance: A meta-analysis. Computers & Education, 127, 107-112.

Kuonanoja, L., & Oinas-Kukkonen, H. (2018, August). Recognizing and mitigating the negative effects of information technology use: a systematic review of persuasive characteristics in information systems. In Scandinavian Conference on Information Systems (pp. 14-25). Springer, Cham.

Mustafaoğlu, R., Zirek, E., Yasacı, Z., & Razak Özdinçler, A. (2018). The negative effects of digital technology usage on children’s development and health. Addicta: the Turkish Journal on addictions, 5(2), 13-21.

Vernon, L., Modecki, K. L., & Barber, B. L. (2018). Mobile phones in the bedroom: Trajectories of sleep habits and subsequent adolescent psychosocial development. Child Development, 89(1), 66-77.

Volkmer, S. A., & Lermer, E. (2019). Unhappy and addicted to your phone?–Higher mobile phone use is associated with lower well-being. Computers in Human Behavior, 93, 210-218.


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