But now 15 years later, it became so common for people to use the phone around others, we already have a special word for it. It’s called phubbing. It’s when you snub someone who sits next to you or in front of you, or maybe even talking to you by using your phone.
So I wanted to know: Is it a real addiction? Can we call it an addiction? Because you could say this is just a lot of use. Apparently there are some similarities between the smartphone addiction to other addictions.
For example, when a smoker can’t get his cigarette, he feels stressful; he feels anxious. It’s the same for an alcoholic who can’t get his drink. And apparently we feel stressed when we can’t get our phone or when our battery is about to die. You probably know this feeling.
And a research done in Australia among 3000 people under the age of 30 founded that 9 out of every 10 admit to feel this anxiety while having his battery dying.
So I have two amazing nephews. They are three and eight years old. And as a technologist, I loved watching them growing, pinching, scrolling, swiping, hitting the touchscreen, even taking selfies before they knew how to read. But I also couldn’t help to wonder: Is there a cost to it? And apparently there is.
There are multiple studies showing relations between development of kids and things [who] happen to our brain. Apparently overuse of screens can really lead to loss of tissue volume in the gray matter areas in our brains. Specifically in in a place called the front lobe. This is a place where our processing functions happen — things like prioritizing, planning, and everything else we used to call, we need it for get things done.
A different area affected is the insula. This is where the kid is learning how to create empathy and compassion for others. But it’s not just the kids, right?
What about the parents?
So in Boston Medical they went to observe some parents with their kids in fast-food restaurants in the U.S. They watched a lot of families eating dinner together and they saw that so many parents are looking at their phone while dining with their kids. One-third of them was constantly on the phone.
And what happened when a parent glued to his phone was interrupted by a kid — by his kid — usually it was a negative reaction.
I tried to understand: Why are we so addicted? What is going on with us? And I found some more relations. One research found in Harvard Psychology Department is showing the sharing information about ourselves, like we like to do through the smartphone, activates the same part in our brain that is related to pleasure — the same pleasure we get from getting money, eating food or even having sex.
And another thing is our fear to miss out. We’re so afraid we’re missing out so we use the Facebook newsfeed and the Instagram newsfeed and Twitter to see what others are doing.
But actually what we are is we are missing out on the real world on reality. AVG study from the U.S. discovered that 57% of women would rather give up sex than their smartphone for a week. And in the UK, a different study shows that around the same percentage admitted they are checking their smartphones while having sex. Well, this is because women can multitask, right?
Now I also noticed that I don’t daydream anymore. I don’t daydream because in every spare second I’m on my phone, I don’t look out at the window anymore. I don’t sit under the trees. But history is full of high achievers, day dreamers like Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton. And we so love to imagine how Newton sat under the tree or Einstein looked out of the window and this is the moment where they had their best ideas.
And indeed we can see that it has to do a lot with creativity. And daydreaming is not just about creativity; it’s also about our memory.
Research found that in order to store memories into long-term memories, there is a two-step process. In the first step, the brain is taking the new impressions and store it in a temporal place. But then in order to take this and move it to a long-term memory, we need to let our brain rest. And this is what we do when we daydream.