From losing MONEY to becoming narrow-minded: GP reveals how spending too much time on social media is RUINING your life
Dr Imran Rashid said we are always jumping between the real and online world
He analysed more than 200 scientific papers to co-author the book Offline
It details how technology is affecting the workings of the brain
Dangers range from poor sleep, low self-esteem, bad parenting and laziness
We live in an age where social media rules our lives, making it hard to take our eyes off of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Some users have been driven to the edge of depression, plagued by low self-esteem due to their ‘addiction’. Experts have branded the damaging effects of too much screen time as ‘digital fragmentation syndrome’ (DFRAG). It causes a catalogue of symptoms, which dozens of scientific papers have found strike those addicted to their phones and gadgets.
Dr Imran Rashid, a GP who works at the largest chain of private hospitals in Denmark, Aleris-Hamlet Private Hospitals, told MailOnline: ‘Hundreds of millions of people are experiencing this new form of digital pollution.
‘And its effects can be just as toxic to the body and mind as contaminants elsewhere in the environment.’In a piece for MailOnline, Dr Rashid reveals the ten ways spending too much time on your smartphone is ruining your life.
‘Digital fragmentation syndrome’ (DFRAG) is an umbrella term named by Dr Imran Rashid and digital expert Soren Kenner, applying to the symptoms uncovered in an analysis of more than 200 scientific papers looking into the effects of tech on our lives
1. Lack of meaningful relationships
Dr Rashid believes that while living in a high tech time, we are also not physically touching each other enough.
This leprocesses such as childbirth, breastfeeding and sex.
Dr Rashid said: ‘This hormone can be used as a scientific measures of how deep our relationships are.
‘When you aads to a lack of emotional relationships as the level of the hormone oxytocin drops. Often referred to as ‘the cuddling hormone’, oxytocin is strongly involved in the process of bonding and building trust as it is raised during biological
The constant need to check calls, notifications, texts, social media and emails keeps the adrenal glands in a constant state of agitation,ren’t touched by as many people as you were used to as a child, the hormonal stimulation you should feel will reduced. and the fight or flight stress response triggered.
Dr Rashid said: ‘We know that being on social media causes reduced ability to recover from stress, which is measurable with the body’s levels of stress hormone, cortisol.
‘Studies have found that if you are reading a book rather than scrolling on social media, your cortisol levels decline faster.
‘These cortisol spikes lead to an avalanche of issues including high blood pressure, increased heart rate and anxiety.’
3. Bad parenting
Dr Rashid said being on your phone a lot around your children could affect the way they form their relationships
Dr Rashid said that parenting skills could be negatively impacted if the parent is constantly distracted by their phone.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ARE ADDICTED TO YOUR PHONE?
If you think your phone is interfering with your ability to stay cool and focused here are some things you can do about it.
1. Turn off all of your notifications and get back in charge of your phone and make your own decisions on when to check mail, social media, texts and more.
2. Put your use on a schedule. Decide when and how much you will surf and be on social media. For example, a maximum of two hours after dinner. Now stick to your schedule.
3. Leave your phone behind. Don’t bring your phone to the dinner table, to the bedroom or to meetings. And leave it switched off while you are driving.
4. Take a social media break. Try a couple of weeks offline, it’s really quite refreshing.
5. Introduce alternatives. Spend time with people, read books, play board games – there are plenty of good alternatives out there.
The child will also pick up their habits, he said. ‘Children don’t do what you tell them to, they do what they see you do. ‘If you show them that being in a relationship means being distant and constantly distracted by a tablet screen, that becomes their model for relationships.’
And it won’t just be their relationships that struggle – children who used screens more than two hours a day had lower cognitive skills in a research conducted last year funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Over seven hours a day, structures in the brain are physically changed.
4. Poor sleep
Scrolling on your phone too much may leave you struggling to get shut-eye, according to a 2017 study by the University of Pittsburgh.
Researchers found that logging on often was more likely to effect sleep quality than being logged on for long periods of time. The team weren’t sure, however, whether it was social media causing sleep disturbances or vice versa.
‘But there’s also a physiological reason,’ Dr Rashid said. ‘The blue light emitted by electronic screens tricks our brains into thinking it’s still daytime. ‘And then we don’t produce enough of the sleep hormone melatonin to fall asleep quickly and get high-quality sleep.’
You may be more selfish if you are addicted to your phone.
In the US over the last 20 years, empathy score has gone down by 40 per cent in high school children, a University of Michigan study showed.
The sharpest drop occurred after the year 2000, which experts, including Dr Rashid, believe to be linked to the rise of the internet.
Dr Rashid said: ‘One of the big issues is that eye-contact is a necessity to show and develop empathy.
‘If too much of your social interaction becomes faceless, you could miss out on training the ability to detect social cues like body language, facial expressions and more.’
Another explanation could be due to a growing need of confirmation and strong friendships online, therefore diminishing your empathy for those around you.
‘Removing empathy from a democracy is turning it into a collective of selfish people,’ Dr Rashid said.
6. Unable to resist bad temptations
Over time, using your phone too much can lead you unable to resist tempations.
Dr Rashid explains: ‘If you can’t say no to your phone, your ability to say no – your impulse control – is being reduced.’ This could lead to indulging in bad habits, such as smoking or unhealthy eating. Impulse control – that is, controlling your impulses – is important for building long term plans, maintaining relationships or saving money.
‘Better health, grades and relationships are linked to the ability to defer instant gratification,’ Dr Rashid said.
A famous study in the 1960s called The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment demonstrates how crucial self-control is from a young age.
In the experiment, 600 children were offered the choice between having a marshmallow now, or waiting for 15 minutes in order to have two.
The researchers tracked the children into adulthood and found that the children who had enough impulse control to delay eating the marshmallow ended up with better exam scores and eventually better paid jobs.
Brain scans revealed that these children also had more prefrontal cortex – also known as ‘new brain’ – activity. The ability to master this part of the brain leads to the ability to defer reward for greater return in the future.
Constant use of technology can make your brain ‘give up’ on decision making and always choose the easy option, Dr Rashid said. He explained that being online for long periods gives us little doses of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that contributes to pleasure. With so many releases of the natural high, you tire out the parts of the brain which are used to make decisions.
ARE SMARTPHONES CAUSING MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS IN YOUNG PEOPLE?
Children as young as two are developing mental health problems because of smartphones and tablets, scientists warned in November.
Just an hour a day staring at a screen can be enough to make children more likely to be anxious or depressed.
This could be making them less curious, less able to finish tasks, less emotionally stable and lowering their self-control.
Although teenagers are most at risk from the damaging devices, children under the age of 10 and toddlers’ still-developing brains are also being affected.
Researchers at San Diego State University and the University of Georgia analysed data provided by the parents of more than 40,000 US children aged two to 17 for a nationwide health survey in 2016.
Adolescents spending more than seven hours a day on screens are twice as likely to have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression as those who spent an hour.
The US National Institute of Health estimates children and adolescents commonly spend an average of five to seven hours on screens during leisure time.