12 ways your smartphone is making your life worse

Your smartphone may be negatively impacting your life.

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Your smartphone may be negatively impacting your life.
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Roman Karpenko/Strelka Institute/Attribution License/Flickr

  • The smartphone has changed our lives for the better in some ways, but it definitely has its drawbacks, too.
  • For instance, some research has found that smartphone use may contribute to sleep issues and depression.
  • Below, a clinical psychologist weighs in about the negative impacts smartphones can have on our lives.

Your smartphone may help you stay in touch with family and friends worldwide, meetdating and marriage partners, and direct you when we’re lost, but there are also downsides. Yes, there areways your smartphone is making your life worse.

Of course, one primary downside of them is their addictive nature. A few years ago, I became soaddicted to textingthat I decided to give it up – first for Lent, then forever. I made it my mission to call people if I wanted to speak to them or, better yet, to make plans to see them in real life.

I soon learned the value of a natural back-and-forth conversation on the phone, and that nothing could replace face-to-face communication.

Dr. Suzana E. Flores, clinical psychologist and author of “Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives,” agrees that smartphones areuseful in numerous ways, but can also cause friction in our lives.

“Of course, there’s the addiction aspect – they’re always within arm’s reach,” she told Business Insider. “We should continue to enjoy our digital connections, but second only to our offline realities. Just as with anything else, too much of a good thing may not be a good thing after all.”

Here are 12 ways, from an expert, that smartphones could be making your life worse.


1. Smartphones contribute to sleep issues

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The bright light impacts our sleep quality.
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Jon Åslund/Attribution License/Flickr

Research has found thatusing your smartphone before bed can make it harder to fall asleep due to the blue light it emits, as Business Insider previously reported.

“Not only does the bright light emitted by digital devices impact our sleep, but social media content distracts and entertains us, too,” Dr. Flores said.


2. They can ruin romantic relationships

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Relationships have changed with smartphones.
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Charles Thompson/Attribution License/Flickr

Smartphonescould also be damaging people’s romantic relationships.

It’s probably happened to you at some point – the person you’re on a date with looks at their phone more than at you.

“This sends a messagethattheir phone is more important than their partner,” Dr. Flores said. “When a partner feels dismissed or unappreciated, they will eventually choose someone else who values their company.”

Furthermore, some couples are spending more time engaged with their phones than with their significant others, which can take a toll on intimacy. “As humans, we give and receive information through our five senses – we need to feel the warmth of our lover’s embrace, we need to smell the roses (so to speak), and we emotionally benefit from spending physical time with loved ones in real-life situations,” Dr. Flores said. “Such experiences simply cannot be gained through digital communication.”


3. They can take a toll on friendships

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Smartphones can damaging our relationships with friends.
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Dima Tsyrenschikov/Strelka Institute/Attribution License/Flickr

I used to have a friend who checked her phone so much when we were together that I finally told her she had to choose – me or her phone.

Friends are foregoing mannersand proper social etiquette because of their smartphones,” Dr. Flores said. “The dopamine hits we receive every time we get a push notification may be to blame, so much so that many of us have convinced ourselves that our push notifications are more important than who or what is around us.”


4. They can have a negative influence on parenting

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Children can feel emotionally neglected.
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Egor Slizyak/Strelka Institute/Attribution License/Flickr

Research has shown that whenparents are on their smartphoneswhile with their children, they are not fully present, which can lead to a host of emotional issues in kids, according to Psychology Today.

“Children feel loved when they obtain attention from their parents; otherwise, they will feel emotionally neglected,” Dr. Flores said. “What’s worse is when parents are physically present, but their attention is absorbed elsewhere. The message children receive is they are not an important part of their parent’s lives (compared to their contacts on social media networks).”


5. They’re replacing in-person communication and conflict

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Digital communication has altered our ability to communicate and resolve conflict.
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Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

Some people now choose to have in-depth “discussions” and disagreements via phone messaging instead of in person, from ending relationships to having heated debates.

“In many ways, digital communication appears to be altering our comfort levels with direct and honest communication and conflict resolution,” Dr. Flores said. “Doing so will inevitably negatively affect our relationships, since important discussions should be done in person or, at the very least, over the phone so that misunderstandings could be minimized.”


6. People expect us to be online and connected to our phones all the time

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People are connected 24/7.
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Marco Verch/Attribution License/Flickr

In the smartphone era, people often expect you to be digitally connected 24/7 and to get back to them instantaneously, too – especially with email and social media read receipts.

However, this is not realistic, and can cause problems when one party has the 24/7 availability mindset and the other does not.

“Social media platforms are designed to encourage more digital interaction time,” Dr. Flores said. “Ultimately, though, we alone determine whether or not we’ll be ‘hooked’ into this mindset.”


7. Some people base their self-worth on social media likes

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Social media impacts our confidence.
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Marco Verch/Attribution License/Flickr

You probably know someone who likes to boast about how many “likes” a social media post of theirs received.

“People tend to compare themselves to others on social media platforms,” Dr. Flores said. “However, basing self-worth on social media ‘likes’ is not healthy.”


8. Smartphones encourage Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)

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24/7 connection leads to feelings of missing out on things.
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Dima Tsyrenschikov / Strelka Institute/Attribution License/Flickr

It’s easy to get caught up in looking at people’s online photos and get sucked into the FOMO concept.

“The notion of making a good impression or comparing oneself to others is not a new concept; however, the emotional effect has been magnified with all the social media outlets at our disposable these days,” Dr. Flores said. “Inevitably, one cannot help but to compare their lives to the lives displayed online – even when photos and events posted may be exaggerated or embellished.”


9. Studies show that reading on a smartphone is worse for learning and comprehension

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Smartphones have affected our ability to comprehend.
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John Loo/Attribution License/Flickr

With a mini-computer in your pocket everywhere you go, it’s easy to opt for reading on your smartphone rather than carrying around a newspaper, magazine, or book.

Despite the convenience, some research indicates that you may want to rethink ditching paper reading material altogether. For example, one study found thatstudents learned better from print textbooks versus screens.

“A healthy practice is to limit digital exposure, and this includes the types of reading you do on your smartphone,” Dr. Flores said. “Plus, doing so will help minimize the negative effects of over-exposure to negative messages and news articles seen on social media networks.”


10. People are forgetting how to date and make friends in real life

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We’re not as social in-person.
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Kārlis Dambrāns/Attribution License/Flickr

The other night, I was out with friends and we tried to encourage a new guy friend to approach a cute girl he saw across the room. “No way,” he said. “It’s easier to just go home and go online or on Tinder.”

Suffice it to say, I found this very sad.

“Some studies have shown that we’re actually spending less time in each other’s presence because online connectivity has convinced us we have already socialized,” Dr. Flores said.


11. Some research says smartphones are not great for our brains

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We depend on them to think for us.
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REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Smartphones can encourage mental laziness. For instance, instead of doing math in your head or with pen and paper – say, when you’resplitting a restaurant billwith friends – you may just use your phone calculator instead. But research shows thatsmartphone use can slow down your thinking process, as Business Insider previously reported.


12. They may not be good for our mental health

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Smartphones can lead to depression and anxiety.
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aaayyymm eeelectriik/Attibution License/Flickr

Increased smartphone use may also lead to depression. For instance, according to researchers who studied college students,the more they used Facebook, the more their well-being decreased.

“I recommend putting smartphones away as much as possible, and doing so may be quite beneficial towards your mental health,” Dr. Flores said.