People observing Sabbath more Immune to Cell-phone Addiction, New study shows

The riffraff in their midst felt a gluttonous craving; and then the Israelites wept and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 




(the israel bible)

November 1, 2020

2 min read

Even before the current pandemic, children and adults around the world became dependent on their smartphones and other electronic media. Coronavirus, which has forced many around the world to work from home and communicate with family and friends from afar, has only exacerbated the problem. 

Many users are as addicted as to tobacco and other drugs

If someone loses a smartphone, it is a major catastrophe, and if the Internet stops working, people feel totally lost and desperate. Many users are as addicted as to tobacco and other drugs. Smartphone addiction has been described as “possibly the most common non-drug addiction of the 21st century.”

In the US, about a quarter of users have admitted they are addicted to their electronic devices. A total of 99% of 18 to 29 year olds own a cellphone, of which 96% are smartphones. According to an industry study, the average person touches his or her smartphone over 2,600 times a day. Eighty-six percent of Americans use the Internet via their mobile devices. Of these, 92% go online daily, and 32% are online constantly.

Depression, restlessness, irritability and agitation

When separated from their cellphones, many report suffering from distress, depression, restlessness, irritability, agitation, loneliness, boredom and a feeling of being lost – symptoms similar to drug-addiction withdrawal. Some say they “can’t live without” these devices.

So how do Jewish observers of the Sabbath and festivals who are not permitted even to touch electronic devices on these days, manage to cope with the craving for 25 consecutive hours every week?

A study to examine whether Sabbath observers experience fewer adverse symptoms

Dr. Eliyakim Hershkop, Dr. Mordechai Levin, Jonathan Nuriel, Dr, Sheldon Hershkop and Dr. Eyal Fruchter from Haifa, New York, Cincinatti and Toronto wrote about this in the latest issue of the Israel Medical Association Journal (IMAJ). They wrote that they had conducted a study to examine whether Sabbath observers experience fewer and less-severe adverse symptoms while abstaining from electronic media devices on Shabbat compared to weekdays compared to those who do not keep the Sabbath. 

The results were significant

They took 10 Shabbat observers who abstained from use of electronic medical devices on the Sabbath compared to weekdays. At the end of each 25-hour period, participants filled out a 12-item questionnaire, rating their discomfort from abstinence on a scale of one to five. They compared the results with a control group who were not Sabbath observers.

The results were significant. Overall, discomfort on Shabbat among Sabbath observers was significantly less than on weekdays and that suffered by non-Sabbath observers when asked to abstain from their use.. 

A previous Israeli study comparing 49 Sabbath observant smokers with non-Shabbat-observant smokers found that the first nicotine-addicted group suffered less from withdrawal symptoms. 

Less temptation to use smartphones on Shabbat

The fact that Shabbat observers find it easier to cope without their cigarettes could be due to the fact that they have less contact with smokers during the holy day. This is probably applicable also to smartphone use. There is also less temptation to use smartphones on Shabbat, because most Israelis don’t call or send messages to observant friends or co-workers on Shabbat. 

The authors suggest that more and larger studies are needed to research the matter. It would be interesting to find out if observant Muslims who are not permitted to smoke during the month of Ramadan also have less problems coping with abstinence. 


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