With recent federal disapproval of the e-cigarette company Juul, many people still fail to realize that another common handheld device, the iPhone, is no better with regards to health implications.
Like the Juul, the long-term effects of children and young adults overusing smartphones have not yet been seen and could lead to the development of serious mental and physical health issues, according to addiction therapists – they warn that giving your child a smartphone is like “giving them a gram of cocaine.”Yet the use of smartphones and smart devices everywhere fails to provoke feelings of unease in the public.
Recent studies show that smartphone usage can easily be as addictive as most drugs. University of Southern California researchers discovered that smartphone usage leads to similar addictive traits as that of cocaine. Dopamine, the chemical released when using both, is a highly addictive neurotransmitter that can permanently affect the brain when released in excess.
Side effects of extensive smartphone usage include lack of concentration, decreased physical and mental performance, possible blurred vision and sleep disturbance. These are just a few of the short-term side effects of smartphone addiction. The long-term effects and treatment, as mentioned by USC addiction expert Steve Sussman, have not been developed yet because of how recently this problem has arisen.
Although iPhone addiction may not be as physically harmful as nicotine, the social and mental damages are more significant, addiction expert Anna Grossman said in a Gizmodo article. Checking your iPhone continually offers similar stimulus to that of taking a smoke break.
Grossman also mentioned that, much like the withdrawals that occur from nicotine addiction, going without an iPhone for an extended period of time is equally as crippling to some.
“Dude, where’s my Juul?” is a satirical video that is highly relatable to college-aged adults. It describes the degree of fixation that can occur from smoking e-cigarettes.The effects of nicotine addiction onset from a Juul, or any nicotine vaporizing device, leads to high levels of dependability on that device. Signs of this are seen through withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, poor concentration and irritability.
But these withdrawal symptoms also apply to smartphone addiction. The constant use of smartphones is rewiring the brain and making people dependent.
Lawsuits against Juul for inflicting nicotine addiction on young adults have popped up all over the news. What was once considered to be completely safe to use is now being struck with case after case of injury claims against the company. The cautious approach to using Juuls should be adopted by iPhone users as well.
Given that both electronic cigarettes and smartphones were only introduced to the US in 2007, the extent of long-term effect research is extremely limited and underdeveloped, especially for the iPhone, as nicotine addiction has been studied far before the presence of electronic cigarettes.
When examining a group of young adults, especially in a college setting, it isn’t surprising that most, if not all members of the crowd have two handheld devices with them – an iPhone and a Juul. Active users of both simply can’t live without them.
These two brands are mentioned specifically because they are both the most commonly purchased devices within their own categories, i.e., E-cigarettes and smartphone devices. The iPhone captures over 45% of smartphone users worldwide, while Juul controls three quarters of the US e-cigarette market as of 2018.
The effects of the iPhone have equally if not more detrimental side effects than Juuls do, and thus should be given equal media attention for its potentially harmful qualities.