A student stands looking at her phone scrolling through Instagram. Journalism I staffer Owen Donnelly believes that students nowadays are addicted to their phones. Photo by Valeria Garcia-Pozo
Journalism I student Owen Donnelly gives insight on the phone addiction epidemic.
We’re all obsessed, and we don’t even realize it. When I can’t feel its weight in my pocket, I panic. When I have to sit for more than a minute my mind immediately goes to it. As many readers may have guessed, I’m talking about my smartphone, my distractor, my social hub and my go-to entertainer.
According to pewresearch.org 77 percent of Americans have one, sitting in their pocket or purse. They provide stimulation and have desensitized us to the wonders of the physical world.
According to psychologytoday.com when one receives a text message, email or some other notification, their brain gets a shot of the pleasure chemical, “dopamine.” Dopamine is the main controller of the pleasure system of the brain, responsible for the enjoyment of drugs, food and sex. Dopamine is also triggered by the acquisition of abstract knowledge, something that our phones frequently supply us with. Dopamine starts searching for information, rewards one for getting information and prompts one to continue.
As people slowly get hooked into this cycle of searching and gratification, they will find it more and more difficult to stop checking his or her phone. In addition, most messages and notifications are short, a 140 character Tweet, a one sentence comment or a three word text.
This leads to their brain to getting just enough dopamine to crave more, but not enough to be fully satisfied.
Many teens recognize their addiction. According to a Common Sense Media Poll, half of the surveyed teens admitted to being hooked, and 59 percent of surveyed parents claimed that their teens were addicted. Seventy-two percent of teens said that they felt the need to immediately respond to texts and other social-networking notifications.
Cell phones can be beneficial in many ways. Near instant communication allows for unparalleled levels of safety and instant information can be extremely helpful in a variety of situations but like many things, moderation is key.