When we pull our phone out of our
pocket, we’re playing a slot machine
to see what notifications we got.
October/November 2017 75
PET scans, the same areas of the brain
light up whether you’re talking about
technology, drug, or gambling addiction.
So it’s almost like the technology,
for some people, is their drug.”
Genovese also says that, in his facilities,
technology addiction often
goes hand and hand with other types
“For example, you’ll have something
like a parent calling about a son who
will spend all day in front of his computer,
but then you’ll find out he also
has an addiction to something else, like
methamphetamines,” he explains.
According to a Deloitte study,
Americans check their phones about
46 times a day. Harris, in his report,
puts the number at 150 times a day.
A volume of research points to the
addictive nature of phones and other
mobile devices, social media and apps
for consumers as well. Flurry Analytics
reports that the average U.S. consumer
spends a whole five hours a day on mobile
devices, and the time is increasing
If that raises alarms, consider what
happens when you take people’s devices
away. A 2015 University of Missouri
study linked iPhone separation
with physiological anxiety, along with
a drop in cognitive performance. Participants
were told the purpose of the
experiment was to test out a new blood
pressure cuff. They were then asked to
complete word-search puzzles wearing
the cuff. After participants completed
the first test, and had their blood pressure
tested, the researchers then told them that their mobile
phones were causing Bluetooth interference.
The researchers moved the phones farther away, and then called
the phones while the participants were doing a second wordsearch.
The researchers measured their participants’ blood pressure
and heart rates again, and found a significant increase in anxiety,
heart rate and blood pressure levels, along with a significant decrease
in puzzle performance when the participants were separated
from their phones. That seems to confirm the response many of us
would have to being denied access to our smartphones.
ARE PHONES MAKING KID S ANXIOUS?
When it comes to approval anxiety, kids and teens can be particularly
vulnerable. Teenagers, as any parent knows only too well,
spend significant time communicating with their social circles
through texting, social media and games. Some of them feel pressure
to perform well on challenges placed by apps like Snapchat
(for example, maintaining a “streak” on Snapchat by posting content
every day). Others need to make sure to post enough selfies
and get enough “likes” on Instagram.
In a survey by Common Sense Media, 59 percent of parents
reported they felt their teens were addicted to social media. Surprisingly,
50 percent of teens agreed. Many parents (including the
writer), are confused about how to respond to problems created by
pervasive, highly engaging technology as it affects their children. To
address some of these issues, Stanford-trained physician Delaney
Ruston and award-winning film producer Scilla Andreen created
the movie “Screenagers,” which has been available to schools and
other community organizations nationally for about two years.
The film explores a variety of questions about the impact of mobile
phones and other technologies on today’s kids. It features perspectives
from parents and kids, along with medical and other experts.
The film explores both moderate and extreme situations involving
kids who are preoccupied with technology, focusing on its