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“I feel like a monster”: is it serious not to have a smartphone?

This is the item of the century. Today, eight out of ten people in the world have a smartphone. We now know that people who use it on a daily basis are prone to developing mental health problems. But what about those who never use it?

This is what Joseph Studer and Hazaal Yasser, the authors of this unpublished study, were trying to figure out because, to their knowledge, there has been no previous study on the mental health and well-being of people without smartphones. Between 2016 and 2018, a questionnaire was sent to 5,315 Swiss men (25/45 years) to assess smartphone use, daily time spent on it, mental health and well-being (depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, life satisfaction and stress), as well as other variables such as social capital, personality, and education.

4.3% reported mental health issues

And not having a smartphone is probably not synonymous with happiness. Non-users (4.3%) reported lower mental health and well-being than smartphone users across all measures. This happiness index was at least partially related to social capital, as well as their higher levels of aggression-hostility and anxiety-neuroticism.

The absence of a smartphone obviously does not affect health, but is often a symptom of social malaise that contributes to the deterioration.

Banished from society, some non-users do appear to be “e-literate,” digitally illiterate, according to Camille Tassel, a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst who specializes in emerging technologies. Because they no longer have access to what communication does in our society. Just as the digital divide has excluded citizens from society, e-literacy will create an identity divide.

Allan, one of his 17-year-old patients, himself decided not to use his smartphone anymore, feeling too dependent on digital technology. Excluded from social networks and other digital information networks, he considers himself to have completely lost his social identity: like an alien, he has lost social connections until he no longer finds his place. “I no longer have a real personality,” he realizes during the session. No longer having any connection to this virtual connection offered to him through his mobile phone, he feels social disrespect. “Sometimes I feel like I’m no longer human, like a monster (or UFO) compared to my friends,” he admits in therapy.

According to the therapist, this is a mental disorder that, if suffered on a daily basis, affects well-being. Profound hyperactivity, anxiety, and a tendency to insomnia: Allan doesn’t know how to fill his boredom when others spend time behind their screen.

Essential life choices…

Not everyone experiences it the same way. Nelly, 43, has never had a mobile phone: “I don’t think I need one, it’s not difficult in everyday life, it’s just a matter of organization,” she admits. Her social life is not affected by this choice, which she finds necessary, as sharing her daily life with everyone is exactly what she is worried about. However, according to her, her circle of friends remained the same. “I don’t feel at all alienated from others and from my social life in general. »

This is not the case for Allan, who feels deeply rejected. Camilla Tassel analyzes through her young patient “not only the loss of social identity, but also personal identity” and even explains to us the mechanism of “e-dysmorphia”. “Today, our smartphone and social media work like a mirror that returns a distorted image of ourselves. Addiction to this mirror can, she says, create “a mimicry of physical and psychological behavior,” but its absence can, conversely, create a form of social isolation.

In any case, the study urges healthcare professionals to be vigilant of those who do not have smartphones, who may experience psychiatric disorders comparable to heavy users.

However, according to Camille Tassel, “networks do not create mental disorders, but the way we use them.” “They can be a medicine or a poison, like Dolipran, to relieve headaches, but they should be taken with caution. »

Source: Le Parisien

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