Psychology Behavioral Changes, Essay Example

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Essay

According to a behavior log, it has become apparent that I am spending approximately two hours per day on my cellphone.  Along with the obvious decrease of time in daily life, there are also concerns with sleep deprivation and exposure to RF waves. Research has shown that exposure to RF waves can lead to an increased risk of malignant brain tumors (American Cancer Society). While the risk of cancer is a huge concern the more immediate issues that I am wishing to change are increasing the amount of sleep that I get per night as well as increase my free time. The most pressing concern of time spent on the telephone is the lack of sleep that it is currently causing. Rather than getting a full eight hours of sleep, I am decreasing my sleep in order to text family and friends, as well as play games on the phone. Research has shown that a decrease in sleep has been linked to a number of detrimental effects

(Thomee, Harenstam & Hagberg, 2011). This is especially true in the college years because of all the social activities, as well as nights spent studying for exams or working on homework. While sometimes the loss of sleep cannot be helped, it does not need to be further facilitated by playing on the telephone. It is commonly recommended that an individual get between seven and eight hours of sleep per night for the best health. A decreased amount of sleep not only causes an individual to be tired, but it can also lead to a decrease in cognitive ability. This decrease in cognitive ability causes a lack of attentiveness and can actually cause grades to suffer. That means that I am not at my best and also creates a deficit in my other daily activities. I need to be at my best when in class, at my job and even during other important tasks such as driving. When a person is tired they are more likely to make mistakes and not do as well as they possibly can, which can risk physical health. A lack of sleep causes other issues such as a lack of appropriate reactions, which could lead to accidents and other problems.

A recent study found that students report being tired the day after they stay up late or miss sleep. Sleep is important to both physical and emotional health. Reduced sleep quantity and quality have been shown to decrease cognitive abilities, general health and well-being. College students are known to have erratic sleep habits, which has been linked to long term health problems. About 65.9% of the student’s researched noted that they woke in the morning feeling tired and feeling that they were not able to do their best (Buboltz et al., 2009).

According to Lundborg, most people believe that the high technology phones, such as my Smart Phone, are actually helping them manage their time better (2008). Ironically, as the article points out, individuals are actually causing a decrease in their daily activities because of their “time management” which is spent engaging in technology. One of the things that Lundborg points out is the fact that people as God for more time, relating to the Sabbath (Lundborg, 2008). This day of Sabbath is meant as a form of relaxation, however it is commonly spent engaging in technology, which decreases the amount of time spent resting. This is pertinent to most everyone because of the high dependence on phones, computers and other electronic devices.

Goal of Behavior Change

Over the first six weeks, it is my goal to reduce the amount of time spent on my cellphone by one hour per day. This is a reduction by approximately one hour per day and will increase the amount of rest time that I can gain daily. As stated previously, one of the leading concerns is the reduction in sleep that can negatively affect my health. As far as my long term goal, I plan on continuing the one hour maximum on the cellphone per day. I feel that limiting time spent on the phone to one hour per day will improve the quality of life, as well as allow for additional sleep, improve my health and increase free time.

Anticipated Obstacles

To any goal or behavior change there are those issues or problems that create barriers in achieving the goal. While there are a few issues that I can foresee, I believe that they can be handled appropriately and not interfere with achieving my goal. One of the most concerning issues is texting friends or family that I have not spoken to in a while. Sometimes there are a few minutes spent daily for each person, but there are times when speaking with family or friends about a particular issue that could lead to an increased amount of time spent on the phone. Another barrier that could lead to a problem would be nights that I am not tired and feel bored. That could lead to an increased use of the cellphone, which could affect my overall time limit on the phone.

Theory of Health Behavior Change

Behavior Modification is one of the most accepted theories of behavior change. It is based on both positive and negative reinforcement, which suggests that people are motivated to change based on the response that they receive as feedback (Olive, 2010). Applying the theory of Behavior Modification to a reduced amount of time on the cellphone would be based on the positives associated with the decrease. The positive reinforcement could be seen the next morning and day, when I felt better as well as had more energy. It would also increase feelings of health because there is a reduced worry about exposure to RF waves and the risk of cancer.

Getting that extra hour or two of sleep would assist me with my education, employment and overall life. Those positives would also eventually assist with my overall health as well. Being able to get enough sleep at night reduces my chances of a weakened immune system, accidents as well as a number of other factors. Based on negative reinforcement, this would mean that if I stayed up late, talking on the phone, and felt poorly the next day, it would encourage me to not engage in the behavior again.

The Health Belief Model could also be implemented and assist with reducing the amount of time spent on the cellphone. This model suggests that a person’s ability to predict and change their own behavior is based on what they believe to be the risk or possibility of continued usage (Health Belief Model, 2010). The perceived severity, benefits and barriers are also commonly associated with the Health Belief Model by me becoming more aware of the health problems and daily issues that increased phone usage is having, will help deter usage. Knowing that using the phone could affect my health or cause me to be more prone to problems during the day, will help me stay focused and motivated to change my behavior.

Effective strategies and Program of Change

The A-B-C method is commonly used in behavior modification. This is the understanding of the antecedent, behavior and consequence (Halper, 2010). Reviewing both the behavior and consequence is important; however it is also crucial to understand the antecedent. In this particular case the antecedent would be whatever prompted me to spend extra time on my phone. By identifying this and acknowledging this “issue” it makes it easier to address and find ways to avoid that particular issue. It is then easier to change the behavior and stick to the goal at hand. In an example, the antecedent would be a text from a friend that I have not spoken to in a while, the behavior of course is talking or texting on the phone. The consequence is being tired the next morning or performing poorly on an exam.

Another strategy of Behavior Modification is what is known as a token economy (Olive, 2010). This is where the desired behavior is rewarded by something monetary or valuable to the individual. In my case, I could buy myself something. For every day that I meet my desired goal or reduced phone time, I will allow so much money. At the end of the six week period I will reward myself with something new. This will help me stay focused and give me an additional incentive to make the changes as well as continue with the changes.

In order to change the behavior and reduce the amount of time spent on the cellphone it is important to change the way that I think. By understanding the detriment and knowing the reward, it helps to motivate as well as keep me focused. Knowing about my own behavior, as well as having something to look forward to will help tremendously. Behavior modification is a complex theory, however can be broken down into easy steps that can be followed. Reviewing the log and also documenting the antecedent or precipitating event will help me to avoid those in the future and thereby reduce the amount of time spent on the telephone.

References

Buboltz Jr., W., Jenkins, S.M., Soper, B., Woller, K., Johnson, Pl, & Faes, T. (2009). Sleep Habits and Patterns of College Students: An Expanded Study. Journal of College Counseling, 12(2), 113-124.

“Cellular Phones.” Cellular Phones. American Cancer Society. Web. 07 June 2012. <http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/OtherCarcinogens/AtHome/cellular-phones>.

Halper Ph.D, Elizabeth. “What Is Behavior Modification?” LIVESTRONG.COM. 13 Apr. 2010. Web. 05 June 2012. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/105661-behavior-modification/>.

“Health Belief Model.” About.com Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). 24 Mar. 2010. Web. 05 June 2012. <http://std.about.com/od/education/a/healthbelief.htm>.

Lundborg, P. (2008, January). Save Us from Our Timesavers. Clergy Journal. 15-16.

Olive, E. (2010). Behavior Management and Behavioral Change: How can we tell them apart? Reclaiming Children & Youth, 19(1), 3-6.

Thomée, S., Härenstam, A., & Hagberg, M. (2011). Mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults – a prospective cohort study. BMC Public Health, 11(1), 66-76.

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