What do you think of when someone talks about being present? You may picture a box with a bow on it, but that's not the kind of present we mean. This kind of present means being in the moment... really experiencing your surroundings and taking it all in. With the invention of cell phones and tablets, really being present becomes more difficult. Whether it's with social media, email, games, news, or a host of other distractions, we constantly pay more attention to our devices than to our surroundings. Regardless of age, most people experience this distraction at some point. What if it's your senior who can't stop looking at electronics? Senior cell phone addiction is a growing problem, and we're here to help.
A Growing Trend
Considering that those who own cell phones grew to 2.7 billion people in 2019, it shouldn't surprise us that cell phone ownership has grown in seniors, as well. In 2016, roughly 4 of every 10 seniors used smartphones. That number more than doubled in comparison to seniors in 2013, just 3 years before.
It's no wonder that cell phone popularity has grown. Look how much you can do with them! Seniors can use them to call loved ones, video chat, see pictures of grandchildren, access social media, and so much more. In addition, they are a handy way to keep up with news and sharpen the mind with puzzles and brain training games.
Effects of Senior Cell Phone Addiction
When does something positive become harmful? While so many parts of cell phone usage provide positive experiences for seniors, it's always possible to have too much of a good thing. Here are some of the effects senior cell phone addiction can have:
Slowed Reaction Time
First of all, too much screen time in seniors results in a slowed reaction time. Since cognitive ability gradually declines as we age anyway, the addition of delayed reactions because of cell phone usage could be catastrophic.
When seniors (or anyone, for that matter) spend more time looking at screens than interacting with others, it can cause depression. Since these adults are at a time in their lives where they are more prone to mental illness, too much cell phone usage can drive them deeper into that hole.
Not Enjoying Experiences
We've all been out and about and seen people too focused on their phones to enjoy what they were doing. When seniors spend family time or other activities glued to a screen, they rob themselves (and their loved ones) of memories that could become favorites. At the end of life, nobody ever says they wish they'd spent more time on a cell phone.
Signs of Senior Cell Phone Addiction
The signs of cell phone addiction in seniors greatly resemble those in other adults. If you notice that your senior loved one does any of the following, it may be time for a conversation:
- Withdraws from family and friends
- Has difficulty completing tasks
- Compulsively checks phone
- Tries to conceal cell phone usage
- Panics when phone is left at home
Tons of sites exist to help with breaking smartphone addiction. Chances are good that your loved one realizes that a problem exists. By learning triggers of checking the phone and limiting its use, he or she can eliminate senior cell phone addiction.