Thursday, November 8, 2018

Are Smartphones Addictive?

Another day, another fascinating study. This time, the study aims at understanding the adolescent mind. Conducted at the University of Buffalo it tries to see what motivates college students.

The researchers addressed this question: which motivates more, depriving a college student of food or depriving him of his smartphone?  Once we ask the question, I am confident that you know the answer. The average college student suffers more from being separated from his smartphone than he does from hunger. He will work harder to get his phone back than he will to get food.

In the study, 76 college students were deprived of food for three hours and deprived of their smartphones for two hours while they studied. They were then allowed to use a computerized game, which was similar to a slot machine, to earn time to use their smartphones or 100-calorie portions of snack food.

The students could spend as much time as they wanted to earn points towards smartphone use or food. Once they decided they were finished, the students were given the appropriate amount of food and phone time. The participants then completed another hour of studying without their phone or food.

The researchers found that the students tended to be more motivated to work towards gaining smartphone time than food.

“In this study, we provide evidence for the first time that smartphones are reinforcing. We also found that when deprived of both food and smartphones, students were much more motivated to work for time to use their smartphone, and were willing to part with more hypothetical money to gain access to their phone,” O’Donnell told PsyPost.

The study does not seem to use the word, but it does suggest that students are addicted to their smartphones, as though they were a drug. The study’s author discovered that students use their smartphones between five and nine hours a day.

If you had felt optimistic about America’s future, based in large part on your admiration of America’s young people, it’s well past time that you revise your views.


whitney said...

"Yes!" she says while reading from her smartphone

Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

Pass the salt, please.

This is typical of toy behavioral experiments. Deprive a gaggle of well-fed WEIRDs (participants that are Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, from Democratic nations) of packaged snack dribs for three hours and, voila!, they work harder for their $800 smartphone and the latest Likes. What a surprise. And it passes muster in a "refereed" journal. Aaaand it garnered a press release for the Psycho Logical Department at the University of Buffalo. Science marches on.

The authors of the "study" admit that “The results we found may be different if the deprivation periods for food and smartphones were different. [duh] For example, how many hours of food deprivation would have to be experienced before people started preferring food over their smartphones?" I smell a NIMH or NSF grant application in there. Grab your wallets, taxpayers.

Having said that, I wholeheartedly agree that servile attachment to social media, propaganda, and a veritable cataract of bulls*** via smartphones is most definitely a reason for pessimism about America's future. I read earlier today that Samsung is previewing a folding phone that, when opened, has a pad-size screen. Two thousand bucks for more real estate to display high-def broadband bulls***. Sounds like a winner. Have a mini-pack of Cheetos and wait for it.

Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

By the way, I humbly note that the authors use of the word "deprivation" was purely as a term of art. Ask just about any Venezuelan if you don't believe me.

Anonymous said...

Did the study participants sit in a Comfy Chair until lunch time, with only a cup of coffee at eleven?

Sam L. said...

I don't have a smartphone. Not going to have one, either. I'm retro! I have the world's lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngest landline.

Anonymous said...

Blogger whitney said...

"Yes!" she says while reading from her smartphone


A future embodiment, from which to escape the mundane. Though, It is a liar.

Anonymous said...

"preferring food over their smartphones?" I smell a NIMH or NSF grant application in there. Grab your wallets, taxpayers."

I'm still curious about the trillion+ dollar F-35 slush fund program.

Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

Look it up on your smartphone.

Anonymous said...

The only reason to have a human in a plane cockpit is if your electronics are hijacked you still have a pilot.

1T+ seems excessive for a last ditch flying machine. A flying machine without a weak human inside to worry about should always have maneuverability advantage even if only by pushing more Gs.

Anonymous said...

When the telegraph was first invented, a journalist marveled that "with this invention, there is no is all HERE."

If wired communications technology reduces the sense of *elsewhere*, it seems that wireless technology equally reduces the sense of the *here and now*,

David Foster said...

Anonymous, above was me

David Foster

Anonymous said...


I don't think people have control over such a thing. It is my belief that the moment you start believing in spiritual materialism you are fooling yourself. If you have control over a reproducible phenomenon it is still materialism. I don't consider nothing to be elsewhere, just because you can observe it in fleeting bits. Nothing is the brain saying nighty night. That is why the closer to dead. you get the less you will typically bring back with you, I don't think there is light at the end of the tunnel so to speak, at least not through our own means.

Elsewhere is simply elsewhere, a concept apart from nothingness and death. Dissociative narratives preceding and post- 'death' cause confusion, the memory gets scrambled and confused. It is a feeling of coming out of nowhere, then a tunnel of light as your brain reboots, but this can go on several times if your brain reperfuses, but then fails to, then re-attempts, like a series of reboots.

David Foster said...

Anon, I don't think Elsewhere in the quote passage had any mystical implications--it had to do with physical, geographical space.

Anonymous said...

Terms are confusing. I used and reserved the terms nothing and nowhere as separate and apart from 'Elsewhere'. Nothing is what your brain 'experiences' as it is dying. If you recover and your brain is intact enough for the memory to function then you will remember an experience of 'coming out of nowhere' depending on how rapid your brain goes from unconscious to fully conscious. If there is a slow transition you get the tunnel effect instead of the sudden shock of 'how the heck did I suddenly arrive HERE' effect. Nowhere is the virtual space the impaired consciousness 'inhabits', I wouldnt say it is necessarily a real place. To me, nor is it either an 'Elsewhere' which would be a 'place' or dimension of sorts outside of all existence or places. This doesn't make sense as you could say the 'nowhere' is an 'elsewhere' but my version of elsewhere is apart from all and only hypothetical. Elsewhere wouldn't be a drug induced state or anything like that. Consciousness annihilation aka irreversible-through-human-means dead wouldn't be Elsewhere either.

A potential Elsewhere scenario would be something 'like' Book of Revelations if an actual Deity re-created this reality into another reality. Some would argue that technology will eventually allow humans to do something like this in a way, but I disagree. [I deleted the rest as it was starting to ramble.]

Ares Olympus said...

I've never had a smart phone myself, so at least when I get away from the computer, I'm free. It does make sense to me that the rise of the smart phone is making people into addicts, like this article worries from a year ago from a previous FB exec:

Keeping smart phones from young kids seems good, but it's going to take some smart thinking to enable adults to walk away, if their jobs require them. But perhaps if we see they were designed to be addicting, the goal must be to design them to not own us, and perhaps future "personal assistants" will actually monitor or addictive behavior and keep the nonessential beeps, buzzes and likes hidden from us except during short periods we designate for breaks.

Isaac Asimov's SciFi explored a dependency relation with robots, and we're not there yet, but in his story, the humans who made themselves dependent (along with extending lifespans) stopped growing, while humans who rejected robots eventually take over the galaxy.

Anonymous said...

"eventually take over the galaxy"

That's only in Star Trek reality. It is THOUSANDS of years of travel distance to the nearest potentially-useful object outside the Solar System.

The Solar System is as far as any living being in the SS will travel. Barring an unmanned "Noah's Ark" to transport cryogenic embryos using automated artificial wombs on arrival (a technology that doesn't exist yet). However, "to date [2016], the longest frozen embryo to result in a live birth was on ice for 13 years before being thawed and transferred into a uterus." So, perhaps ≥160 dwarfs, that have been genetically modified to survive long term space travel would work better, or a combination of the two.