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Addicted to Notifications? An Electronic Hit of Dopamine

Addicted to Notifications? An Electronic Hit of Dopamine
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Without a doubt, laptops and smartphones have changed the way the world works. We can communicate with friends and family across the world, work from home, and have unlimited information at our fingertips. However, as with everything in our world, there does come a time when there is too much of a ‘good’ thing… 

Did you know that the average adult spends between 2-4 hours per day tapping, swiping, browsing, shopping, etc? This adds up to a concerning total of 60 days each year! Not only are our electronics time consuming, but they are actually addicting. 

While our smartphones may seem to not be addicting in the same way as consumables such as drugs, alcohol, or food, the physiological manner in which our electronics are addicting is actually nearly identical. It all boils down to dopamine releases in our brain. For those who aren’t familiar with how this works, your brain contains several pathways that transmit a feel-good chemical (dopamine) when you’re in rewarding situations.

For most people, social interaction stimulates the release of dopamine. Our electronic connections make it extremely easy to socialize with others, which is the true driver of the addiction to smartphones. Without the use of electronic connections, the average human has up to 150 people in their social sphere. With the use of social media, the internet, chat rooms, etc. our social sphere has the ability to grow to a whopping 2 billion individuals! 

Now.. let’s think about that.. That is truly a LOT of potential dopamine release.

Unfortunately, app developers and social media companies understand this and use it to keep you using their platforms. The notifications, buzzes, rings, and dings all signify that someone is trying to connect with you (enter dopamine). This potential social interaction makes you want to check your phone right away as your brain is rewarding you with a good feeling!

Our phones and apps have essentially taught us that our electronics are a constant stream of good, happy feelings. This can create a dangerous habit where individuals will look nowhere else for those positive emotions. YIKES!

With the increase of cell phone use, new terminology has been coined to describe the addiction that many individuals are dealing with. Some examples being nomophobia (fear of going without your phone), textaphrenia (fear that you can’t send or receive texts), and phantom vibrations (a feeling that your phone is going off when it really isn’t.

We want to be clear.. This blog wasn’t written with the intention of scaring you into tossing your smartphone in a river or deleting your social media apps, because they can be extremely beneficial. For example, how else would we be able to instantly connect with family, friends, or co-workers who live in another state or country. That is truly amazing! 

However, it is important to understand that our electronically integrated world does have potential to be dangerous! Limit your time spent on social media, in messaging apps, and on your phone in general. Get outside, live your life, be in the moment, and allow your electronics to play a smaller, supplmental role in your life. True memories are made when you live present with those around you.

If you believe that you or a loved one is addicted to, or heading down a path to being addicted to their electronics, we recommend you do some searching online for additional research, tips, and information from experts on cell phone and electronic addiction.



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