Could you last a day without your smartphone? The answer for most people is no. I think we all know the feeling of panic when we leave our smartphones at home. Or that underlying sensation of wanting to answer that new notification that just popped up on our screen. But why are these devices, introduced less than 15 years ago, so addicting?
How it affects our brain
Even though smartphones are used differently by different people, many people share something in common, the joy that comes with receiving a notification or a text. In our brains there is a chemical that is produced called dopamine. Dopamine is released in our brains when we have enjoyable experiences such as eating great food, exercising, etc. One particular aspect of dopamine is that it rewards us and motivates us to redo beneficial behaviours. So, what does this have to do with smartphones you ask?
What should I do?
Everytime we receive a notification, whether it be from social media or a text message or anything relating to increased social activity, dopamine is released and the want for these social stimuli grows. It is dopamine that increases our want for our smartphones and usage, but we’ve also grown much more reliant on our phones than ever before. Not only are they used for texts and calls, but now they play music, act as our GPS, used to take photos, and so much more. I personally use my phone for many purposes and I know how useful they can be. That being said, we should always be cautious with how much we use our phones and their impacts. If they do really affect our personal lives, maybe its time for us to pull the plug and disconnect.