“Our smartphones have turned into a tool that provides short, quick, immediate satisfaction, which is very triggering,” said Isaac Vaghefi (pictured), assistant professor of management information systems at Binghamton University-State University of New York. “Our neurons get fired and dopamine is being released, and over time this makes us acquire a desire for quick feedback and immediate satisfaction. This process also has contributed to developing shorter attention spans and being more and more prone to boredom.”
Vaghefi and colleagues surveyed 182 college students and asked them to report their daily routine of phone usage.
Based on the analysis of the responses, and a smal number of in-depth interviews, they classified the user as one of the following types: thoughtful, regular, highly engaged, fanatic and addict. 7% identified as addicts and 12% as fanatics. Both groups experience personal, social and workplace problems due to a compulsive need to be on their phones.
Overall, these users exhibited signs that could indicate depression, social isolation, social anxiety, shyness, impulsivity and low self-esteem. Females were most likely to exhibit susceptibility to addiction.
“While self-identified ‘addict’ users were in the minority, I predict technology addiction will increase as technology continues to advance and application, game and gadget developers find new ways to ensure users’ long term engagement with technology,” said Vaghefi.
According to Vaghefi, you may want to consult professional help if:
- You use technology as a way of escaping problems or relieving feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression.
- You ignore what’s happening in real time in favour of what’s happening virtually.
- You constantly check your phone, even when it doesn’t ring or vibrate.
- You get paranoid when you do not have your smartphone with you.
The work is described in ‘A typology of user liability to IT addiction‘, published in Information Systems Journal.