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Although we’re well aware of the dangers of certain types of tech habits, what could simply checking our phones hurt?
We might not realize it, but each time we compulsively check our phones, we’re programming ourselves to develop a technology addiction, one that can start our innocent and derail your life in the long run.
Several studies show a relationship between heavy smartphone use and negative effects such as neuroticism, self-esteem, depression, impulsivity, self-identity, empathy, and sleep problems.
Smartphones engage in disruptive behaviors that have traditionally been performed only by extremely annoying people. What’s more, they give us access to the entire internet. And, unlike previous technologies, we keep them near us at all times.
Smartphones and other digital products not only have neurological effects but are explicitly designed to trigger them.
To maximize the amount of time that we spend on our phones, designers manipulate our brain chemistry in ways that create addictive behaviors.
Many of the techniques that they use involve a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is central to motivation, and its release is what makes us excited.
Smartphones take advantage of the fact that dopamine is also released in anticipation of a reward.
If your brain learns that checking your phone usually results in a reward, it won’t take long before your brain releases dopamine any time it’s reminded of your phone.
To hook users on their products, social media apps rely on the power of intermittent reinforcements.
Intermittent reinforcements are variable reinforcements that are always new and surprising.
Smartphones also tap into our fear of missing out (FOMO). They make it easier to know about the things that we are missing out on. And make us convinced that the only way to keep up-to-date is by constantly checking our phones.
People want their posts to be liked by others and will go to great lengths to be popular on social media. This need is taken advantage of by Big Tech.
Your attention is what gets sold on Social Media. Every moment we spend on social media is attention spent making money for someone else.
The unfortunate thing about this is that attention is the most valuable thing we have. In other words, we experience that which we pay attention to.
Once you’re aware of the motives behind social media platforms— namely, attention stealing and information gathering—you’ll begin to notice how these motives are incorporated into their designs.
You’ve probably heard this one before — about how the blue light given off by your phone can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. Your brain needs to identify the absence of blue light in order to produce the sleep hormone melatonin? And because melatonin is what regulates your sleep cycle and tells your body to start winding down for the night, your entire sleep cycle can be disrupted by that last drowsy text you send from bed.
The damage that smartphones do to our brains is reversible. You can improve your concentration, rebuild your attention span and improve your memories.
The first step to taking back your life is to practice mindfulness. Practice paying attention to how your cravings feel emotionally and physically and relaxing into them.
The more you practice being mindful, the more it becomes obvious that your brain has a mind of its own
Paying deliberate attention to your moment-to-moment experience also gives you more fodder for memories that don’t involve your phone.
This action plan should be spread out over the course of 30 days, divided in four weeks:
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