Phone Addiction

Foxbat

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Watched an interesting documentary on the BBC last night. It featured a woman I had never heard of but had a large following on the web. It was an experiment about phone addiction. They took it away from her, wired her skull up with electrodes and then put the phone in front of her where she could see it but wasn't allowed to touch. The results were that her brain gave the same response as an alcoholic who had a drink in front of them. A sobering thought about the effect of technology on us (terrible pun, I know).

When she finally was given her phone back, she proceeded to take a load of selfies. At first I found this behaviour a bit bizarre but then I thought how sad it must be to be so desperate for attention.
 

Robert Zwilling

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A great deal of effort is put into designing the phone programs so people are more likely to look at it than not look at it. The original video phone was a bust because no one could figure out how to make a profit out of its services. With smart phones, the more it is looked at or the longer it is looked at the higher the advertising rate can be charged. We have only so many buttons in our brains that can be pushed so they have to respond to different kinds of stimuli but they all have the same result, modified behavior.
 

Matteo

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Ditto. Which a couple of new colleagues found most amusing when they realised.
 

Venusian Broon

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Interesting @Foxbat but as they say, anecdote is not evidence. If smartphones and (I assume in this case) the type of social networks it provided, did not exist maybe she would find some other outlet for similar types of behaviour. Perhaps such a hypothetical activity was nothing to do with technology. And in that universe the BBC would measure her brain activity and then say that whatever this activity was, it was making her like an alcoholic.

So perhaps it is her personality/typical brain state?

Anyway that's my sceptical first thoughts.

Also as in the case of alcohol, just because there are alcoholics, that doesn't mean the majority of those that enjoy alcohol can't have a few sips. So in this case I find smartphones extremely convenient and very useful.

Sometimes I get the impression that some people think normal human behaviour is that of presbyterian god botherers on a dreich sunday. And any deviance away from this is an abhorrence :). Nah, there's a huge range of human states - sure some can be actually negative and harmful, for various reasons - but there is a huge spectrum of positive ones.
 

Foxbat

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Interesting @Foxbat but as they say, anecdote is not evidence. If smartphones and (I assume in this case) the type of social networks it provided, did not exist maybe she would find some other outlet for similar types of behaviour. Perhaps such a hypothetical activity was nothing to do with technology. And in that universe the BBC would measure her brain activity and then say that whatever this activity was, it was making her like an alcoholic.

So perhaps it is her personality/typical brain state?

Anyway that's my sceptical first thoughts.

Also as in the case of alcohol, just because there are alcoholics, that doesn't mean the majority of those that enjoy alcohol can't have a few sips. So in this case I find smartphones extremely convenient and very useful.

Sometimes I get the impression that some people think normal human behaviour is that of presbyterian god botherers on a dreich sunday. And any deviance away from this is an abhorrence :). Nah, there's a huge range of human states - sure some can be actually negative and harmful, for various reasons - but there is a huge spectrum of positive ones.
I don't doubt that there are people with addictive personalities but I still thought the brainwave response was interesting. It was her immediate response in being given back her phone, however, that really intrigued me. It reminded of the days when I was a smoker (stopped 17 years ago ...did it hardcore with willpower and obsession alone...harpooned my very own Moby Dick).

My job at the time meant that smoking was forbidden. Sometimes I had to go four hours without a nicotene hit and I still remember those deep breaths afterwards, cramming as much smoke into my lungs as I possibly could. Then, the deep sigh of relief as the nicotene coursed through my veins. This is what her selfie-taking spree reminded me of.
 

-K2-

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My hard-line phone works just fine for the 1-4x/week I use it... for all of perhaps 60-seconds maximum each call. If I want on the internet, I have to go to a distant part of the house into a room specifically for that to use my 'PC.' No cameras or microphones on it.

The way 'I' view it for 'myself,' conversations are meant to be had in person. Correspondence should be in the form of a letter (paper-envelopes-stamp-mail). Selfies? *snort* If I ever become so vain, then my brain is going south... Besides, that's what they make Polaroids for ;) Now where's my pretty wig, store-bought teeth and dollar-store lingerie?

K2
 
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Venusian Broon

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I don't doubt that there are people with addictive personalities but I still thought the brainwave response was interesting. It was her immediate response in being given back her phone, however, that really intrigued me. It reminded of the days when I was a smoker (stopped 17 years ago ...did it hardcore with willpower and obsession alone...harpooned my very own Moby Dick).

My job at the time meant that smoking was forbidden. Sometimes I had to go four hours without a nicotene hit and I still remember those deep breaths afterwards, cramming as much smoke into my lungs as I possibly could. Then, the deep sigh of relief as the nicotene coursed through my veins. This is what her selfie-taking spree reminded me of.
It's interesting. If you had got the nicotine hit from another source - say, patch - would you have got the same 'hit'?

I don't mind saying that I developed an 18 month cigarette habit after leaving Cambridge at the turn of the century, where I had only been experiencing <cough> special smokes. Only to actually discover after Uni, that most of the 'hit' was just plain tobacco.

Thankfully when I got up to 20 a day it was clear that I wasn't reacting well to ciggies, so I just quit. Yes, it was annoyingly easy. Just stopped.

Yes, I can remember the pleasure of the first cigarette of the morning...but i also remember the rest. They were total rubbish :)

So yes, my inclination is to think that there must be a degree of 'addictive personality' *somewhere* in there.

(For the record I am fully aware I have my own other addictions that I have been much less successful in stopping!)
 

tinkerdan

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Yes it's really a horrible thing they did hooking all those electrodes to her...
A sobering thought about the effect of technology on us (terrible pun, I know).
...very much a, egregious miss-use of technology.

In all seriousness though, I often worry that the scientific method gets muddied when someone is out to prove something. It is so easy to guide the method used into what conclusion one is looking for rather than to find a true method to measure with.

They might end up measuring the anxiety that the subject has over being subjected to some strange electrodes invading their private space.

Much similar to some people I know who have wierd blood pressure and pulse readings at the doctor's office while at home it always reads normal.
 

Robert Zwilling

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Is there anyone who doesn't use a smart phone defending it. If it is so necessary for life to be constantly interrupted by its use how come things went so well when we didn't have them? It almost sounds like only addicts are addicts. Then there was the article about how some people's necks were developing bone spurs from looking down at phones too often, almost like the phone spurs prevented one from looking up on purpose. Videodrome comes to mind. Everything is safe when used in moderation but just by watching people with their phones moderation does not come to mind. Do photons pounding on the retina eventually ring bells in the mind. Distracted driving accidents are growing by leaps and bounds and yet people were always eating, smoking, applying makeup, reading, daydreaming behind the wheel and the rates stayed mostly out of sight. Is it only because the phone use is too hard to hide after the accident, being that it is officially recorded outside of the car. Does the human mind need solitude the same way it needs a suitable amount of sleep to function at its best? Developed minds are one thing, like teflon vests stuff bounces off, but how does phone use impact brains still growing in size, making new neuron connections. A baby's brain is a quarter of the size of an adult brain, doubling in the first year, 90 percent by year five, so all those layers, probably critical layers, are safe. But the connections within the brain are constantly forming and reforming as we grow older, making new pathways for new connections. Those structures may not be immune to the sculpturing caused by cell phone chatter.
 

Venusian Broon

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Is there anyone who doesn't use a smart phone defending it.
How can you defend something if you really know nothing about it? (And vice versa how can you deplore something if you know nothing about it either?)

If it is so necessary for life to be constantly interrupted by its use how come things went so well when we didn't have them?
Erm....these phones don't constantly interrupt people's lives. I suppose at best we could say, a few people choose to use them a lot.

And personally I think life is much better with them. But you can choose not to have them and go back to the 'good life' if you want. That's not a problem either.

Everything is safe when used in moderation but just by watching people with their phones moderation does not come to mind.
Not in this part of the world. I don't really see phone fetish and people stuck to the screen at all times. Yeah, a few Grandpas and Grandmas moan a bit about it. The ones that are amazed by faxes, digital television and new-fangled microwave ovens.

Do photons pounding on the retina eventually ring bells in the mind.
Photons continually pound on my retina, especially when my eyelids are open. Phones are not necessary for this to happen.

Distracted driving accidents are growing by leaps and bounds and yet people were always eating, smoking, applying makeup, reading, daydreaming behind the wheel and the rates stayed mostly out of sight. Is it only because the phone use is too hard to hide after the accident, being that it is officially recorded outside of the car.
Dunno, UK all road casualties have been, more or less, going down for the past ~80 years - including the advent of mobile phones. I can't speak for other countries. It is possible that we can chart a big increase in people being charged for mobile phone use in cars, given that it is illegal to use your phone while driving here.

Does the human mind need solitude the same way it needs a suitable amount of sleep to function at its best?
I'd guess that you need solitude while sleeping...but perhaps not really required while awake. We are social animals after all. Some people would love to be a hermit and crave solitude all the time. Others would go mad if put in solitude, even for a short period. I guess it just depends on the person. I like to be stimulated with lots of different things when awake. And on the odd occasion solitude is nice. Easy enough to arrange.

Developed minds are one thing, like teflon vests stuff bounces off, but how does phone use impact brains still growing in size, making new neuron connections. A baby's brain is a quarter of the size of an adult brain, doubling in the first year, 90 percent by year five, so all those layers, probably critical layers, are safe. But the connections within the brain are constantly forming and reforming as we grow older, making new pathways for new connections. Those structures may not be immune to the sculpturing caused by cell phone chatter.
This is perhaps an interesting point. Not that very young children will have a phone and use it like a teenager, nor utilise it's killer app - the social networking - but they will have access to tablets, laptops and other computational devices. They really do pick these things up very quickly. However, really, I don't worry about such things. We're very adaptable beings. I got the same sort of moans from people in the 70s telling us young 'uns had it far too easy with electronic calculators in maths. We should learn to use slide rules and log tables goddammit ;) :)
 

Robert Zwilling

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How can you defend something if you really know nothing about it? (And vice versa how can you deplore something if you know nothing about it either?)
I am very adept at digital manipulation. Are you thinking I don't have a smart phone? I do have one, it is wifi only used in the house to update instagram account which I use for advertising only. I don't text on it, I don't make calls on it. I look at the radar to watch the weather coming up. I also use it as a handheld computer to look up something when I am watching TV and don't feel like getting up and waiting for the desktop to come to life. One thing about the radiation factor, under normal circumstances the phones are transmitting at low levels but when they are roaming all bets are off and they are pumping out every bit of power they got at their disposal. The towers are proliferating so roaming is becoming less of an issue in highly populated areas.

There a plenty of articles on the internet which have looked into the cell phone's interaction with people. I guess you are only acknowledging information that backs up your personal observations. You would be surprised at how corporations are using anthropology to interact with people.


Erm....these phones don't constantly interrupt people's lives. I suppose at best we could say, a few people choose to use them a lot.
You live in the UK, which might mean your database is a bit constricted, 66 million vs 330 million in the US. While you might not like the US, and might think the UK way of life is going in good directions, you're in a minority situation and the life you see is probably not what the rest of the world is doing. I see people everyday walking into the street with their faces in the phone assuming that no one will run them over. We have meaner streets than you have. You have laws that people obey, (illegal to talk on the phone while driving), we seem to use the laws as guidance as to what we can do. Stand anywhere on the street and most of the cars going by have people talking on the phone or worse yet texting and it is illegal here yet that means absolutely nothing. Over here people use phones a lot. They are always on, always beeping, ringing and sputtering in any group of people. Even when poets are sitting around reading and discussing their own poetry. Once again, the data is from 330 million with no body trying to hide anything. Look I've got 3,000 friends now.

Not in this part of the world. I don't really see phone fetish and people stuck to the screen at all times. Yeah, a few Grandpas and Grandmas moan a bit about it. The ones that are amazed by faxes, digital television and new-fangled microwave ovens.
The ones that are amazed by faxes, digital television and new-fangled microwave ovens... that is an incredibly ..... I'll let people fill in their take on that statement. Playing the age card is not something I do. I try to use all the information/facts in making decisions whether they prove my current point of view or not, which ultimately makes it very difficult to support anything people are doing. When you give people both sides of the story it gets harder to convince people of anything. It is harder to do that when writing as it takes up so much space and time. Speaking of old people, they have seen all the scams and all the different ways they can be played out so they are less likely to be impressed by the latest newest thing, kind of like meet the new boss same as the old boss. All the scams being played out today are variations of what was being played out when horses were king.


Photons continually pound on my retina, especially when my eyelids are open. Phones are not necessary for this to happen.
That's poetic license. I've written several poems that allude to the photons beating upon the human body. But there is a difference between sunlight and preprogrammed patterns that no one knows what kind of impact they might be making using digital patterns that becomes dots and dashes building sine wave patterns we think might mean something.

Dunno, UK all road casualties have been, more or less, going down for the past ~80 years - including the advent of mobile phones. I can't speak for other countries. It is possible that we can chart a big increase in people being charged for mobile phone use in cars, given that it is illegal to use your phone while driving here.
Our accident rates are going up at a nice clip. But then our death rates are going up for all kinds of things and some of our expected life expectancies are starting to decline. The phone fines are quite stiff, start off cheap and go up from there but have little impact. If a cop was standing on a street corner and was tagging all the driving phone users it would look like a bear pulling salmon out of a stream that was filled with salmon, far more than could ever be pulled out of the water. Even when you got the hands off phone connection people are still distracted and at 45 miles an hour, a speed a lot of people like to drive, that's 66 feet per second, and too much can happen in the blink of an eye especially when it is mulling over the social implications of a conversation that can occupy too much of the brains attention, as we are social animals and have so many connections to keep everything updated in our heads. It isn't as simple as eating a sandwich. All the social connections in the conversation or implied conversation light up different parts of the brain as the mind pulls everything together, mulling over all the implications whether they are true or not.
 

dannymcg

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I love my smartphone, my last one got broken mid November and I had to cold turkey it until Christmas day (shudders at the bleak memory of those terrible weeks)
I was doing basic Facebook on the family tablet but was getting nagged by the five year old who wanted to watch Paw Patrol on it.
Christmas morning was incredibly busy with helping younglings with toys and doing the big family meal.
All the time I was quick glancing at this big shiny Motorola and itching to grab it.
Finally about nine at night, my wife wanted to sit and chat while watching some slushy movie. No chance! At last I could get to the phone and set it up with the apps and emails etc.
An hour later I was all over the web. Four sci fi sites, a dozen or so Facebook groups, nostalgia sites etc, frantically scanning all the posts and messages to catch up. Plus Twitter and Snapchat and Instagram and What's App
Boxing day morning very early I napped in an armchair for about half an hour and on with the surfing
Addict!
 

Foxbat

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For the record, I had a smart phone for a while but dumped it when I realised that I really didn't like it. I think it was a Samsung Galaxy 3 - which shows how long ago that was. I've never had the inclination to replace it.
 

Robert Zwilling

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Even if you don't have a phone/data connection, the old smart phones make cheap high quality cameras that are easily downloaded through the charging cord.

I have never understood why phone companies don't automatically offer a docking gizmo that could easily connect a keyboard, mouse, usb, monitor and printer adapters to your smartphone for a complete functional desktop replacement. The different phone manufactures probably are not compatible but phones made by the same manufacturer one would think would continue to use the same docking unit. Apparently the cloud isn't capable of having a keyboard, mouse, usb, monitor and printer hooked up to it that uses your own personal equipment without having a university degree in advanced networking to hook it all up and maintain it so it works when you need it. It seems like it is all going from a free hands on experience to a limited view window with a constantly ticking meter being fed coins to keep the window open just to see your own data.
 

Matteo

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I can't offer a professional opinion on addiction to smart phones but there are times on my morning commute when the entire carriage is on the phone - and a high proportion seem to be scrolling through photos/videos with comments. It's a similar story when I get off the train; people walking around - and crossing the road!! - eyes down looking at their phone. And I frequently see people "meeting" for lunch and they're looking down at their phone - thumbs tapping away...

I also don't have statistics on road traffic accidents but have had several near misses with idiots on their phone.
 

Foxbat

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I can't offer a professional opinion on addiction to smart phones but there are times on my morning commute when the entire carriage is on the phone - and a high proportion seem to be scrolling through photos/videos with comments. It's a similar story when I get off the train; people walking around - and crossing the road!! - eyes down looking at their phone. And I frequently see people "meeting" for lunch and they're looking down at their phone - thumbs tapping away...

I also don't have statistics on road traffic accidents but have had several near misses with idiots on their phone.
Only yesterday, a man walked onto the road, head down, engrossed in his phone. I had to come to stop to avoid hitting him. He then looked up and gave me verbal abuse for having the temerity to shake my head, as if it was my fault he was almost hit. If he teaches his children to cross the road like that, he won't have them for very long.
 

farntfar

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I have never understood why phone companies don't .....
Of course you have.
You've always understood why they'll happily sell you 3 or 4 devices when one could (and actually does) do everything all the others do.
They've already more or less given up selling you a digital camera, because your phone takes better pictures anyway. And they're fast working towards you not wanting a land line in your house, at least not for telephone services. (But you'll need a fibre connection to the internet to connect your mobile to by WIFI when you're at home.)

But please don't ask for too much all at once. The stockholders don't like it.
 
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