Beyond Distracted Driving: Is Cell Phone Addiction Wrecking Lives in West Virginia? Take the Test to Find Out
Each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. Research shows people still text and drive knowing these dangers. One-third of drivers say habit is why they compulsively check their phones while behind the wheel. But, is it just a habit? Or, is it something more serious?
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) describes this emerging international problem of psychological attachment (or addiction) to cell phones. It’s called nomophobia [ Short for No Mobile Phone Phobia].
Nomophobia — Is it Real?
Sound ridiculous? It’s a real thing.
Nomophobia is based on the DSM-IV medical diagnosis of phobia of a “particular thing”. The classification as a phobia is debated, but the condition mostly describes a kind of separation anxiety disorder due to dependence or addiction to mobile devices. That separation anxiety is partly what drives people to grab their smartphones at inappropriate and sometimes dangerous times (like while driving). Cell phone addiction is considered the “biggest non-drug addiction problem of the 21st century”.
Are the Consequences of Cell Phone Attachment Trivial or Deadly Serious?
Is classifying cell phone attachment as a serious condition an exaggeration, or do West Virginians (as well as all Americans) really have a problem?
Apparently…we might. Studies show the people on average touch their phones about 2,600 times a day which isn’t necessarily bad, but we do it when we know we shouldn’t.
As when, say, while driving a car. For example, in the past 4 years, over 12,000 people have died in preventable distracted-driving crashes. Texting campaigns and new laws don’t seem to be helping much. For example, in 2017, 3,166 people were needlessly killed in the U.S. because of distracted driving! In other words, almost 100 people are buried every day because of distracted driving, often involving cell phones.
And, arguably, like any addiction, cell phones are interfering with our basic good judgment. Most people are aware that auto accidents happen almost every day in West Virginia because of texting while driving. But did you know that even pedestrian injuries jumped tenfold due to walking while distracted by a smartphone!
The problem is so significant some countries are now using crosswalk lasers to alert “Cell Phone “Zombies” crossing busy intersections. One woman actually walked off a pier while checking Facebook on her cell phone! (She was rescued, thankfully, with her cell phone still in hand.)
Take the Test to see if you have Nomophobia (Cell Phone Addiction)
Is your cell phone interfering with your ability to focus at work or have a face to face conversation? Or, more frighteningly, is it interfering with your ability to drive or walk safely?
Here’s a quiz to help evaluate your level of cell phone attachment.
Based on research at the State University of New York at Oswego, the point is to be conscious of how our phones can negatively impact our lives (and those around us).
Rate your answers on a scale of 1 [ totally disagree] to 7 [strongly agree] and add your score.
- 20 or below = not addicted
- 21-60 = mildly nomophobic
- 61-99 = you probably struggle with compulsively checking your phone
- 100-200 = you might have severe anxiety when you can’t access your phone
3 Simple Steps Towards Cell Phone Freedom, Safety and Peace of Mind
Research shows that following the 3 steps below can help reduce compulsive cell phone use, help keep you safe, and increase your overall happiness.
#1 Turn OFF the push notifications that tempt you most
Notifications interrupt your focus and actually train your brain to be distracted by releasing sporadic hits of dopamine. It is impossible to settle into a complicated work project or real learning when your attention is constantly being tugged upon. If your work is great with distractions, just imagine your sheer brilliance if you were focused!
Go to Settings>Notifications to control your preferences. Turn off as many as you feel you can. You can start off by just turning off a few push notifications, and after you experience the benefits firsthand, you’ll likely be motivated to turn off more all of them.
#2 Turn ON your cell phone’s grayscale
This trick is proven surprisingly effective. The gray color is less appealing, and it changes your cell phone experience to, well, a less enjoyable one. Your brain won’t find the content as interesting, so the pull lessens.
Go to your settings and look for the ‘Accessibility’ category.
For the iPhone, find ‘Display Accommodations’ and then turn on ‘Color Filters’
For Samsung, find ‘Vision’ and then scroll down to ‘Grayscale’
# 3 Use a timer & notify friends and family
To wean yourself off compulsively checking your phone, set your alarm for when you can check your phone. Here’s how:
- If you can only go 15 minutes without checking, then start there and work your way towards longer periods. Build up to checking hourly or longer.
- When your alarm sounds, spend one minute going through your notifications and then restart your timer.
- It may reduce anxiety if you let friends and family know you will not be responding as quickly as you used to. Maybe you’ll inspire them to do the same!
Manage Your Cell Phone So It doesn’t Manage You
Smartphones allow for countless benefits, but the implications of unhealthy dependence are becoming apparent and far-reaching. If you’re ready to dial back your screen time, you can start today. If you start experiencing symptoms of anxiety, fear, agitation, trembling, or respiratory alterations associated with your changes, consider seeking professional support. Or, gradually changing your habits around cell phone use may also help you cope with the anxiety that sometimes comes with changing behavior, especially when it involves something we may be attached to, like a cellphone. You can restore the balance in your life.
Our wish is that you won’t let anything interrupt your full potential. Keep your hands on the wheel, your mind on the moment, and your eyes on the road of your life! May you be successful!
Get a Free Consultation With a Charleston, West Virginia Auto Accident Lawyer
We hope this article helps you have a better understanding of how common and how dangerous cell phone addiction is and that this knowledge helps keep you and your loved ones safe. However, we know you can’t control others. So, if you or a loved one was injured by another in a West Virginia accident or by negligence, we invite you to call one of our experienced personal injury lawyers for a free consultation. At West Law Firm, there’s also never a fee or cost unless and until we recover compensation for you. Call our toll-free number today at 1-877-943-9378 (WEST).
Brooks West is a West Virginia personal injury lawyer who helps people who have been injured by negligence or wrongful conduct. He is the President and founder of West Law Firm and has been an attorney since 2005. Brooks is a Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum member and has been awarded the AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.