Sitting in a classroom, hunched over a desk, you furiously erase incorrect answers from a sheet of math problems. “This is a waste of time,” you think to yourself. “Why can’t I just use a calculator?”
“You won’t always have a calculator in your pocket,” the teacher replies.
Fast forward a decade or two. In your pocket is not just a calculator, but a phone, a flashlight, and access to the sum of the world’s knowledge. Smartphones are a technological marvel, uniting and improving the lives of people worldwide. What price do we pay, though, for this ubiquitous device?
Is Your Smartphone Controlling You?
Recent studies have shown a decline in cognitive ability that correlates with smartphone usage. Coupled with this, with over 1 billion smartphone users worldwide, developers must use different techniques to get and retain user’s attention. Through both intent and circumstance, these factors may prove that your smartphone has more control over you than you think.
Reduced Cognitive Function
Scientists continue to study correlations between smartphones and their effects, as they have for many years. These studies range from the effects of mobile device usage on everyone, from elite athletes to pedestrians. A 2019 study showed that smartphone usage reduced cognitive function of people solving anagrams. Results showed people who used smartphones during their breaks “did not allow [the] brain to recharge as effectively”, thus affecting their speed in completing the puzzles.
Other studies have shown that even when not interacting directly with a phone, audible notifications for messages or apps can prove distracting, decreasing performance and drawing attention away from tasks. Not only does your smartphone keep you at its disposal, but it also reduces your ability to interact with anything else.
As mentioned, notifications on a smartphone distract people from their duties. It is no coincidence that some of our favorite apps send multiple notifications throughout the day, calling us back to our device. Most notably seen on social media networks, smartphones alert users of new pictures from friends, headline news, and reactions to their own posts. These constant reminders to return to the app keep people addicted, with the more popular social media sites boasting over a billion users.
Developers also configure their apps to play off the brain’s reward system. Through certain design functions, users receive a hit of dopamine for the many rewards and perks they receive through continued use of the program. Seen mostly with prizes for daily check-ins or even through specifically crafted loading screens, many apps keep you coming back by triggering a response in your brain.
Those are but two of the tricks developers use to draw users to their apps, but they are not the only tools at their disposal. From limited availability to exploiting personal insecurities, they have many more ways to grab people’s attention and hold onto it.
Smartphones are everywhere, and their list of uses seems to grow daily. People require their devices for more and more, but this reliance may come at a cost. Constant acknowledgment of a mobile device can distract users from important tasks. Developers also design their user interfaces to lure people into returning to their apps. Some people experience addiction to their mobile devices as a result. Assistance is available online if you find yourself becoming dependent on your smartphone, and a quick search can yield many helpful answers.
If you’ve got it all under control, though, be sure to check out these new mobile casinos while you’re cruising the information superhighway. Sign-up bonuses and awesome prizes are waiting for you. You can even use that handy calculator/phone/flashlight in your pocket to add up your winnings!