Posted on: March 5, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Zachary Bertram
JRN-111 Student

People are becoming so dependent on their phones that it raises the question: Do we really have control of the phone or does it have control of us?
The addiction we all battle: our attachment to our cell phones was the topic of a well-attended presentation given by a collection of expert panelists in a recent talk at Moraine Valley’s library. 
Our addictions to our cell phones are actually dangerous, according to the panelists.
“People who are constantly on their phones have higher rates of depression, anxiety, social awkwardness, and suicide ideations,” said Teresa Hannon, a full-time counselor and licensed clinical psychologist.
More than 40 people attended the presentation, “In Relationships with our Phones: Our Emotional Attachment to Gadgets & Devices,” on Feb. 13. The panelists were Hannon, John DiGangi, an addictions counselor, Nick Shizas, a psychology professor at Moraine, and Anna Rogers, a full-time counselor and assistant professor in psychology.
The biggest reason for our addiction is social media apps, according to Hannon, but people won’t delete their social media because of “FOMO,” or Fear of Missing Out. For example, someone might not want to delete their social media because they might miss the details of an upcoming party on their Snapchat story.  
“Are you gauging your sense of belonging based on likes, based on number of friends, based on who’s even messaging you?” said Hannon. “Our self-esteem should not go hand in hand with our social media accounts.” 
It’s about finding the right balance for the amount of time we spend on social media. 
“I think when most people think about addiction you start thinking about alcohol and drugs,” DiGangi said. “That’s a major problem in our society, but people can become addicted to virtually any behavior that he or she finds pleasurable.” 
A person is considered addicted to something when their tolerance keeps going up until it becomes unhealthy, he said.
“We are so connected to our phones that we cannot even drive a distance and put the phone down,” said DiGangi. “Texting and driving is actually more dangerous than drinking and driving.”
This addiction sadly leads to many people losing their lives. 
“The question starts to become: Is this object…there for me to use it? Or has it become a boa constrictor that has slowly, slowly, slowly woven itself around me?” DiGangi stated. 
Audience member and psychology professor Cara Williams said she sees both sides: “There are pros and cons and barriers created. Addiction makes it negative but if it’s being used for ease and convenience it becomes positive.”
DiGangi pointed out that the addiction to technology affects even young children.
“Research shows that any kids under the age of two should have no screen time, but parents are using technology as a temporary caretaker,” he said. 
The problem is the kids become so invested in the game they’re playing or show they’re watching that they can’t break their focus from it until the screen is taken away from them by their parents. When parents constantly give their toddlers screens, their addiction begins dangerously early, and will more than likely follow them throughout their whole life.
Distractions due to cell phones waste time that should be used spending quality time with your significant other rather than staring at your cell phone. 
“They’re happening when you’re having dinner, they’re happening when you’re hanging out, they’re happening when you’re at restaurants, they’re happening when you’re out together, when you’re driving, when you’re in bed and during intimate time,” said Shizas. 
Shizas says people are ignoring their significant others, leading to a huge increase of relationships ending.
On the other hand, cell phones can be helpful devices, the panel acknowledged. 
“I would be lost if I couldn’t connect to my two married grown children living out of state,” said Hannon. 
She is able to talk to her children and grandchildren whenever she pleases, virtually interacting with her family members through text and Facetime. 
In one powerful moment, Rogers showed a commercial about an old man with a memory loss disease who would tell his phone to remember important qualities about his wife. The commercial even brought tears to a few audience members’ eyes.
“Our cell phones aren’t a bad thing 100 percent of the time,” Rogers said.
Rogers suffered a serious stroke in 2013 that left her with the inability to speak, which made communicating with her doctor difficult. That was until Rogers used quick thinking and pulled out her cell phone. 
She was able to type the answers to the doctor’s questions, tell him what was wrong, what meds she was on, and her symptoms. A cell phone saved Rogers from what could have been a life-threatening medical scare had the doctor not been able to figure out what was going on. 

Zachary Bertram can be contacted at bertramz@student.morainevalley.edu