Along with great technology comes great responsibility. A female Taiwanese university student described as being a “smartphone addict” sent over 30 consecutive messages to her boyfriend in an hour out of anxiety upon realizing that he had “seen” the messages without replying. Overcome with anxiety himself, the boy finally suffered from neurasthenia, Oriental Daily reports.
According to National Taiwan University Hospital, the number of medical cases resulting from “smartphone addiction” has increased five percent from last year.
One male university student with a history of mental instability had to seek medical treatment after being bombarded by his girlfriend who’d sent him 30 messages consecutively within one hour on the messaging app Line just because he had “seen” the messages but not yet replied to her.
A doctor said the girl had suffered from a syndrome of “seen but no reply” (已讀不回症候群). Though it was not a “formal” disorder, it was still a symptom of smartphone addiction.
Psychiatrists in Singapore, where there are currently two counseling centers with programs meant to deal with digital addiction, are pushing for authorities to formally recognize addiction to the internet and smartphones as a disorder, according to SCMP.
Trisha Lin, an assistant professor in communications at the Nanyang Technological University, defined digital addiction by a number of symptoms: the inability to control craving, anxiety when separated from a smartphone, loss in productivity in studies or at work and the need to constantly check one’s phone.
Lin warned that parents should avoid giving their children a smartphone or tablet computer to keep them quiet. “It’s like the TV in the past with the babysitters and now it’s even worse because now you have the screen with you everywhere,” she said, citing the case of a Taiwanese high school student who could only sleep clutching her smartphone in case someone tried to call her.
In 2007, the China Communist Youth League claimed that over 17 percent of the country’s 17-year-olds were addicted to the internet, making China the first country to declare internet addiction as a clinical disorder.
The documentary Web Junkie, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year, fallowed teenagers and their parents at a Beijing rehab center who undergo extreme bootcamp-like treatment to treat their “addiction”.
By Christy Mak