Smartphone addiction isn’t something everyone realizes as a serious problem. Most of us have a moderately healthy relationship with our device. That being said, we’ve all been in that conversation when the other person (or ourselves) suddenly seems worried or disinterested, and picks up their phone to scroll on through. Some people are simply annoying- they have no manners. But for many, the power to check out what could be going on online is too powerful to resist. And there are reasons for it.

A recent article discusses how the sounds of notifications on our smart phones have turned us into Pavlov’s dogs. Ivan Pavlov was a famous Russian psychologist who discovered through experiments with his dogs that sounds can be associated with pleasure.

He sounded a buzzer and then gave his dogs food, and the dogs soon began to drool at the sound of the buzzer, even when they weren’t given the food.

Our phones buzz to let us know we have a message, or something new has popped up, and we’ve become addicted to the sound. It may be good news or bad news, but it doesn’t matter. The ping itself is making our brains release dopamine. In fact, some experts go so far as to claim that we become more excited at the mere prospect of good contents in a message, than we are when we actually read the message. Or, check out the notification.

Some of the Facts

  1. Global cell phone subscription soared from 12.4 million in 1990 to 7 billion in 2013.
  2. 2.7 hours per day are spent socializing on our cell phones – twice the time we spend eating.
  3. The typical Smartphone user spends regarding 300Rs monthly for wireless access-more than the typical house pays for electricity each month.
  4. 15.7 billion Texts are sent each month. That’s 363,426 per minute or 6,057 right this second.
  5. New moms spend more time on smart phones (their “lifelines”) than other adults. Average 37 hours per month, 20% more time than the average millennial (~31 hours).
  6. Research shows that 73 percent of people  would feel “panicked” without their smart phones
  7. In a 2013 study, 30% of people admitted to snooping on someone else’s mobile phone
  8. 12%  of people surveyed are concerned that smart phones are damaging their relationships

Why do we instinctively pull out our phones when we have a moment of non-occupation?

Because we use smart phones in so many different situations, and to accomplish so many different tasks, we develop a vast range of triggers and cues associated with pulling them out and looking at them.

What concerns us here is that if your habitual response to, say, boredom, is that you pick up the phone to find interesting stimuli, you will be systematically distracted from the more important things happening around you. Habits are automatically triggered behaviors and compromise the more conscious control that some situations require…

How to regain some control?

Try going a day without your devices, once a week. Switch off. Let your mind think for itself, and regain the right to a peaceful mind.


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