Screen Addiction: Digital Gratification Anytime, Anyplace

May 11, 2022

We are addicted to screens. The screens can be any size so long as they contain instantaneous gratification content. Our screen addiction has altered our brain chemistry and Medium explains how in the article, “Your Brain-Altering Screen Addiction Explained. With Ancient Memes.” The article opens by telling readers to learn how much time they spend on their phones by looking at their usage data. It is quickly followed by a line that puts into perspective how much time people spend on their phones related to waking hours.

The shocking fact is that Americans spend four hours on mobile devices and that is not including TV and desktop time! The Center for Humane Technology created the Ledge of Harms, an evidenced-based list of harms resulting from digital addiction, mostly social media. The ledger explains too much screen time causes cognitive impairment and that means:

“The level of social media use on a given day is linked to a significant correlated increase in memory failure the next day.

• The mere presence of your smartphone, even when it’s turned off and face down, drains your attention.

• 3 months after starting to use a smartphone, users experience a significant decrease in mental arithmetic scores (indicating reduced attentional capacity) and a significant increase in social conformity.

• Most Americans spend 1 hour per day just dealing with distractions and trying to get back on track — that’s 5 wasted full weeks a year!

• Several dozen research studies indicate that higher levels of switching between different media channels are significantly linked to lower levels of both working memory and long-term memory.

• Studies even showed that people who opened Facebook frequently and stayed on Facebook longer tended to have reduced gray matter volume in the brain. “

Screen addiction causes harm in the same way as drugs and alcohol. The same thing we turn to reduce depression, anxiety, and isolation creates more of it. Another grueling statistic is that we spend an average of nineteen seconds on content before we switch to another. The switch creates a high by the release of endorphins, so we end up being manipulated by attention-extractive economics.

Tech companies want to exploit this positive feedback loop. Our attention spans are inversely proportional to the better their technology and algorithms are. The positive feedback loop is compounded by us spending more time at home, instead of participating in the real world.

How does one get the digital monkey off one’s back? Cold turkey, gentle reader. Much better than an opioid.

Whitney Grace, May 11, 2022


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