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Smartphone addiction

Smarphone-addictionMy wife and I were in a hotel bar recently, enjoying a pre-dinner cocktail and having a conversation driven largely by people-watching.

A well-dressed couple came in. They sat at the adjacent table and, after ordering drinks, whipped out their respective smartphones. Then they spent the rest of the time we were there clicking away.

Now, it could be that they were texting each other. But I suspect what we were witnessing was an example of information addiction.

Scientists have discovered that dopamine -- the chemical released when we have sex or eat -- is also excreted when we are stimulated in other ways. Like hearing the ping of an incoming text message or finding email in our inbox.  

Frank Partnoy, writing in the New York Times, puts it all in context. "E-mail, social media and the 24-hour news cycle are informational amphetamines," he writes, "a cocktail of pills that we pop at an increasingly fast pace — and that lead us to make mistaken split-second decisions."  

Despite Malcolm Gladwell's panegyric for thinking by blinking, economists label the problem “present bias.” Fast, salient stimulation has an out-sized -- and sometimes deleterious -- effect on our judgment. 

The release of dopamine in sex and eating was an evolutionary adaptation that ensured our survival as a species. Unfortunately, many other kinds of addictive behavior can also stimulate its release. Video games, for example, or checking email.

So think about that the next time your smartphone pings.

 

Comments

Everyday I spends a lot of time clicking my smartphone. When our friends get together, most of my friends are playing their smartphone. After read you article, I will pay attention for this problem.

Yes, there are now several people that become addicted in using smartphone because it is one of the convenient device where you can play different application.

Woow that wwas odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I cliked submit my comment didn't appear. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

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