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12 Nov 2019, Edition - 1582, Tuesday

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Columns

These smart gadgets can kill the smartness in you

Uma Ram

Smartphones, iPads and a range of smart devices appear more intelligent than the human brain and are revolutionary inventions, but equally enormous are their negative consequences owing to excessive usage. The physical and mental health hazards resulting simultaneously are innumerably and on a steep rise.

Though everyone is aware of the prevalent truth that smartphones and other gadgets addiction can affect both the personal, social and health aspects, people are still entangled in the rigid mesh of the so called smart world. While adults get meshed up in the inviting world of internet vices ignoring family and society, kids and adolescents develop problematic behaviours, somatic symptoms, attention deficits and aggression. This leads to memory disorders resulting from the constant exposure to the bright light enslaving the eyes causing pains and preventing them from providing an undisturbed sound sleep for the individual to stay fresh and alert throughout the day. It thus confuses the brain whether it is day or night hindering it to be alert and smart.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) becomes the order. It results in feeling of emptiness, getting bored easily, switching over from one incomplete action to the other, unstable self-image, increase in proneness to social media addiction as these people may use mobile and other smart devices more often to stay in touch with more number of persons who are strangers mostly, ignoring the already established family, friends, peers and the society they live in.

Studies have found that dependent internet users rank high in terms of the feeling of loneliness, affective disorders, low self-esteem and impulsive behaviour.

A 27 year-old Rakesh (name changed) was admitted for suicidal attempt by hanging. History revealed interpersonal conflict with his wife Reema that resulted in self-harm attempt. He confessed that all he wanted was to threaten his wife with no intention to die as he suffered from low self-esteem when his postings on the social media did not get much appreciation. There were multiple such threats and attempts in the past.

There was also a history of unstable and unpredictable mood swings and poor relationship with spouse, friends and total cutoff from society, easy irritability, poor impulse control and polarised thinking in the recent past, according to his wife, friends and acquaintances. The patient was diagnosed with BPD and was started on mood stabiliser (sodium valproate and escitalopram) for impulsivity and depressed mood along with psychotherapy to help him in anger management, improve coping styles and stress management. Psychoeducation and counseling were done for his wife to handle his unusual unpredictable behaviors.

In this era where life is almost zero sans internet, self control alone can stop such mishaps. If you think you are beyond your control and your mind drags you towards the gadget, then the best possible solution would be to hand over the responsibility of controlling your gadget usage to your loved ones, might it be your parents, spouse or children.

Everything is interlinked, be it in the case of kids abiding by parents’ words calls for obedience which in turn involves parents’ alertness which in turn calls for a good parenting based on the fact that parenting is not just a mother’s job.

In the case of adults, understanding that “private space” does not mean a total cut off from family and friends in secrecy behind pattern locks and passwords. Leave kids, unless adults understand the fact that they are withholding themselves from caring ones and cheating themselves, such untoward incidents are inevitable.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.

(The author of the column is Uma Ram, freelance writer from Coimbatore)

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