Dr. Irwan Syah Md Yusoff
Knowledge Development and Transfer Unit
Faculty of Human Ecology, Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Senior lecturer
Department of Resource Management And Consumer Studies
Faculty of Human Ecology, UPM.

Malaysian Consumer and Family Economics Association (MACFEA),
Session 2024-2026
Areas of Expertise: Ergonomics – Consumer Safety and Health, Consumer Product Design, Consumer Product Sustainability
Email: irwansyah@upm.edu.my
No. Phone: 012 275 2758

It is common knowledge that smartphones have become a necessity among Malaysians to achieve or fulfil the needs desired by the user through the convenience of various applications provided. This has made Malaysia the country with the highest smartphone addiction in the world, ranking third among users after China and Saudi Arabia based on the "World of Statistics" revealed by the Twitter application in 2023. This situation, if not properly regulated, will have a bad impact on consumers from health and social aspects.

This development, seen from a positive point of view, is something good, and Malaysians can be proud among developed countries that they are technologically literate. It also indicates that the government is on track to be in line with developed countries. Even so, this development, if not properly monitored, can have adverse effects from various angles among the users themselves and become a disease known as "Nomophobia", which is the fear of losing or living without a mobile phone.

This addiction and obsession is also proven through statistical data (DOSM, 2023), reporting that the percentage of ICT network access for mobile phone use among households is 99.3% in 2022. The same data states that male users are the highest (98.8%) compared to women (95.9%), and 99.7% are users aged between 20 and 24 years. The same data also reported that among the applications that are the main focus among smartphone users are social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and others, with a percentage of 92.5%, followed by content download activities (93.5%), information search related to the purchase of goods/services by 92.5% and followed by software/application downloads (89.1%).

Being obsessed with the use of smartphones leads to addiction symptoms that are difficult to control. The consequences of this addiction will lead to adverse effects among users, which are cumulative health problems resulting from the use of smartphones that do not follow proper guidelines. The use of smartphones has increased many times since COVID-19 hit the country. Users spend a lot of time on smartphones connecting, getting information, browsing social media, and downloading games to fill the time when the control order is enforced.

It is even more unfortunate that many users do not realize that they have been in a zone of obsession or addiction that is difficult to control. This situation does not only happen among adults; it is even more disturbing that this addiction has spread to children. Ideally, at such a young age, children's brain development should not be exposed to elements that can hinder brain cells from processing information in a natural, logical form. The brain cells should not process the data received beyond the child's age, as this will eventually lead to health effects and behavioural changes that tend to be negative. Many users fail to admit that they have experienced the disease "Nomophobia".

Obsessed Signs On Smartphones
Among the signs that a person has experienced symptoms of smartphone obsession is not being able to focus on a task done well and often failing to complete the actual task well because a lot of time is spent browsing the applications on the smartphone. Work performance and productivity will decrease significantly. Many jobs cannot be paid off as expected by the employer.

Next, social interaction with friends or family members becomes worse due to spending a lot of time browsing smartphone applications. The social gap in the community is widening, and etiquette between individuals when communicating is also not respected because the focus is on the phone or gadget used at that time. This situation has given the impression that social isolation has been built indirectly with the real world.

The symptoms of smartphone obsession can also be identified from the user's behaviour when trying to hide from other individuals about using the phone. A person's emotions can suddenly turn into anger or irritation when reprimanded while using an application on a smartphone. These difficult-to-control emotional changes clearly illustrate that the addiction to smartphone use has taken over the person.

The attitude of not being able to refrain from getting the latest news or information to the point of not sleeping at night or leaving essential things that need to be paid off is a sign that a person has experienced an obsession with smartphones. Finally, the signs of smartphone addiction can be identified by feeling fear and anxiety or panic if the smartphone cannot be accessed or is not on the user. Other individuals can clearly see The feeling of irritation, even if the phone's battery is getting low or it cannot be turned on.

If not handled well and given more serious attention, all these symptoms harm the person and the environment around the person. This poor environment is not only on the part of the government but more on the part of the user's self-awareness. It is expected of all smartphone users to prioritize proper smartphone use in order to minimize the adverse effects that can affect personal health and the social environment among the community.

Date of Input: 16/04/2024 | Updated: 16/04/2024 | harnita_upm


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