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Staring for too long at tiny screens on iPhones can bring about depression, a top psychologist has claimed.
Cary Cooper, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University, warned users to limit their phone time as it can “numb the senses”.
He said: “Staring at screens constantly takes you away from people and gives you a passive outlet where you don’t have to interact with the world or face your problems.
“ Like television, the light draws you in and numbs your senses. It’s the exercise equivalent of treading water and can be both addictive and destructive in the way it occupies your mind without actually stimulating it.”
Experts in Sweden agree that gadgets can contribute to prolonged stress, sleep disturbances and depression.
And a survey by pharmaceutical firm Bayer found that 28 percent of women blamed smart phones such as iPhones and BlackBerrys for ruining their sex lives.
Obsessively checking Facebook and emails can lead to similar problems. Prof Cooper said: “Computer technologies can be addictive because they’re psychoactive — they alter mood and often trigger enjoyable feelings.” Email, in particular, gives us satisfaction due to what psychologists call variable ratio reinforcement. That is, we never know when we’ll get a satisfying email, text or social media message, so we keep checking, over and over again. “It’s like slot machines — we’re seeking that pleasurable hit.”
But he warned: “Being subjected to constant data smog or information overload presents the real risk of ignoring or forgetting the information you do need and being less in control of your life as a result.
“Like using the elevator rather than the stairs simply because it seems easier, not using your brain to perform key cognitive and social functions can have a huge impact on emotional health.”