Special Report: Digital Addiction
Do you have your smart phone in your hand right now? Or is your computer sitting in your lap? If you answered yes to either question, you may want to put the electronics down and listen up because experts fear folks in America are becoming too attached to their digital devices. A study done by Internet Trends says an average person checks their mobile phone at least 150 times a day. Psychologists believe people are training their brains to crave more interaction because each new message or internet update serves as a reward.
" We don't know when the next tweet is going to happen. We don't know when the next status update is going to be. We don't know if we got a message. So it's that itch that kind of builds up and you want to scratch and what that does is fracture our attention," said Dr. Michael Neelon, Psychology Professor at UNC Asheville.
It could be an indication that cell phones and the internet could be triggering addictive behaviors.
" I do think that one aspect of addictive behavior is it having a detrimental impact on your life," said Neelon. "If dopamine underlies a lot of addictive behaviors, like certainly drugs and eating and gambling, then I think it also, because it's triggered these devices are ideally suited to trigger dopamine then yes, it can contribute to addictive like behaviors."
A study conducted by IDC Research says 79 percent of smartphone users have their phone on or near them for all but two hours of their waking day. Sixty-three percent keep it with them for all but one hour. Dr. Neelon says it might be healthy to give your brain a break from these digital devices. He recommends putting yourself in a new environment from time to time, setting limits on your usage, especially at dinner and bed time and try to retrain your brain by finding an activity that can make you just as happy as that next message.