Screen Addiction

Screen Addiction



Adam Alter’s interview on The Gist, was very informative and presented interesting new ideas.  Alter gives his definition of addiction, and that a lot of technology falls under it.  The interview begins by requesting listeners to put their phones down, as their mere presence often distracts us.  He compares addictions of substances and addictions, and says it is very much possible to be addicted to things such as a smartphone.  He mentions that the definition of addiction has involved to include behaviors that don’t include ingesting a substance.  He argues that an Instagram post can have the same characteristics as gambling, which can be addictive.  You post a picture and you constantly check for notifications, likes, and comments.  “It looks in the brain, much like addiction” he says.  He claims that these patterns can be addictive.

Alter mentions that “our threshold for boredom is so low, that we treat it by getting in an elevator for ten seconds and taking out our phones”.  What can someone do on their phone for ten seconds, I wonder.  But it’s not about doing anything more than it is checking, we crave new updates and notifications, much like a smoker craves a cigarette.  It is an addiction, to our smartphones.

The Netflix auto play feature is an example of something that leads to an addiction.  When people watch shows on Netflix, after one episode ends, the streaming service automatically plays the next episode, making it harder to stop watching.  Alter argues that this is the leading cause of “binge watching”.  People don’t stop the show and just let the next episode play, over and over again, and they don’t realize how much time they have spent watching.  If an episode ended and you had to go in and play the next one, people wouldn’t watch for as long.  I know personally, I would play a show before going to bed and say to myself “I’m going to go to bed after this episode” but the episode ends and a new one comes on and I am not in bed.  If after that episode, I had to pick up the remote and play the next one, I would have picked up the remote and turned the TV off, but I never had to pick up the remote.

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