Every time 21-year-old Srishti Bhatia feels happy or angry, the first people to find out are her BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) friends. “I feel a constant need to update my status,” says the creative associate head with a production house. “I compulsorily check in on an application called Foursquare, which allows you to let your friends know where you are. So if I’m at Lower Parel station or at Palladium, I keep updating my status.” But Bhatia’s friends aren’t amused with her need to incessantly, almost unconsciously, check her BlackBerry (BB) in the middle of conversations. And they’re not alone.
According to city psychologists, the number of people suffering from this unhealthy addiction to the BB has increased drastically, even resulting in breakdown of real relationships. “Spouses feel jealous because many users spends more time on the phone. It could be the new cause for divorces,” says Dr Kanan Khatau of Life Cures Wellness clinic, who has noticed that men seem more prone to the addiction. “BBM forces the brain to switch on and off constantly. It drains you mentally, and results in reduced attention span and hyperactivity.”
Dr Harish Shetty, psychiatrist at LH Hiranandani hospital, Powai, notes the symptoms of BBM addiction, saying, “People experience restlessness if they don’t receive messages, and panic if they’ve left their phone behind. There’s also the need to constantly check it. They tend to miss events happening around them and there is a drop in their performance at work too.”
His advice to addicts: “Give yourself a specific time to check messages, and try and switch the phone off after hours. Avoid keeping it under your pillow at night, and definitely don’t take it into the washroom.”