Why are people so caught up in their phones?

  How do we take away people’s time and energy? We just took advantage of a weakness in the human psyche and put in a little bit of dopamine.
  — Sean Parker, founder and former president of Metaverse (formerly Facebook) I have no doubts that
  mobile phones will not disappear before our eyes. When I wake up in the morning and open my eyes, the first thing I do is look for my phone. Before going to sleep, put the mobile phone on the bedside table in the place closest to us. We touch our phones 2,600 times a day, checking them every 10 minutes during our waking hours. Not only that, but 1 in 3 people (50% of people aged 18 to 24) will also check their mobile phone when they wake up in the middle of the night.
  I think if we lose our mobile phones, our world will collapse with it. 40% of people said that they can face their mobile phones all day without saying a word. This doesn’t seem like a joke. In cities, coffee shops, restaurants, buses, dinner tables, and even gyms, no matter where we are, we cannot take our eyes off our phones. It’s a totally addictive state.
  Why are people so gripped by phones and screens?
  We love new things
  ”the more we know, the greater the probability of survival”, and nature has endowed us with the instinct to constantly seek new information. What fuels our instincts? I believe everyone has guessed it, it is dopamine. When faced with new things, the brain will secrete dopamine to help us learn better and more focused.
  The existence of these dopamine cells eager for new environments and new information means that the brain is full of high evaluations for new things. From birth, we have a strong desire for new and strange things, which makes us always want to travel to strange places, make new friends, and try things we have never done before. Perhaps such longings also motivated our ancestors to explore new opportunities in a time when food and resources were scarce.
  Back to the modern society we live in. Since the brain hasn’t changed much, the craving for new things remains with us. Today, of course, we no longer need to move around in search of food, so this desire manifests itself in other forms, such as using computers or mobile phones. Whenever we click on a new page, the brain will secrete dopamine, so we will keep clicking on new pages without stopping. It seems that the “next page” is always the best compared to the pages you have just seen. We may spend less than 4 seconds on each web page, and only 4% of web pages take up more than 10 minutes of our time.
  Whether it is news, email or social software, we can quickly access new information. The brain’s reward system is activated at this time, which is consistent with the ancestors when they were exposed to new territories or environments. In fact, the reward-seeking behavior of the brain is so close to the information-seeking behavior that it can sometimes feel indistinguishable.
  Because it is unpredictable, I crave mobile phones!
  Imagine our ancestors standing under a fruit tree. Some fruits are sparsely hung on these fruit trees. Since it cannot be seen under the tree, it is necessary to climb up to determine whether there is any fruit. After climbing a tree and finding no, then at this time, the ancestors must continue to confirm other trees. Only those who do not get discouraged will eventually get the “reward” of calories and thus survive.
  Nature is always unpredictable. Like those trees that “may bear fruit”, it is difficult to know in advance whether we will eventually be rewarded. When the situation is unpredictable, the brain will release dopamine frantically, and the same is true when facing new things. This will stimulate human beings to continue to explore, and it will also allow our ancestors to obtain basic survival guarantees in that era of food scarcity and limited resources.
  But from today’s perspective, this may cause many problems-such as the obsession with slot machines and casinos. Perhaps for some people, this is just an entertainment activity, but many people are deeply involved in it and cannot extricate themselves. How does the brain give “rewards” when facing uncertain things? When you understand this, you can understand the allure of gambling and the rewards that it brings. The hearts of gamblers are always shouting: “One more shot! Maybe I can win this time!”
  Not only are casinos and some of the entertainment industry cunningly exploiting this brain mechanism, in fact, it’s what we do when we can’t help but pick up our phones to confirm when a text or email alert sounds. The “trap” of a mechanism. “Maybe there is something important”, we always think like this, and the dopamine secreted when we hear the beep is much higher than when we actually read text messages or emails. “Maybe there is something important”, this idea pushes us to pick up the mobile phone to confirm, so there is a problem that we have to look at the mobile phone every 10 minutes, and we cannot leave the mobile phone as long as we are awake.
  Social software that constantly stimulates the reward system
  In addition to casino operators and mobile phone manufacturers, there are also some places that cleverly use human beings’ obsession with uncertain things. The most typical of which is social software. Social platforms such as Facebook, photo wall, and salad cloth have been tempting us—”Is there anyone who has updated the news?” “Let’s see how many people have liked and commented on me.” Moreover, social software will deliberately activate our reward system to the peak. The “like” someone presses on your vacation photo won’t show up immediately, and Instagram and Facebook will hold on to other people’s likes until our reward system is at its peak. By cutting stimuli into smaller pieces, they heighten expectations.
  Developers of social software understand this truth well. They know better than anyone how obsessed with unpredictable outcomes and how often they need rewards. So they took advantage of that and got us constantly picking up our phones. “Oh, maybe someone has liked me again, I’ll take a look”, this mentality is exactly the same as the psychological mechanism of gamblers “Give me another shot! Maybe I can win this time!”.
  Many businesses employ behavioral scientists and neuroscientists to conduct research in order to maximize the reward system of people’s brains. From an economic point of view, these companies have indeed successfully invaded our brains.
  On average, we use our mobile phones for 3 hours a day. Of course, some of these people use their phones less, while others use their phones more often. So, what are the characteristics of those most dependent on mobile phones? Researchers conducted a survey on the habits of 700 college students using mobile phones, and finally found that one-third of them rely heavily on mobile phones, and they are also “inseparable” from their mobile phones when they sleep at night. So they always feel very tired during the day. Among the “super consumers”, especially common are those type A personality people who are competitive, have low self-esteem, and often put great pressure on themselves. On the contrary, people with type B personalities who are gentle, not impatient, and not tense have mostly nothing to do with mobile phone addiction.
  Overwhelming advertisements
  When you are immersed in your work and suddenly hear a text message notification tone, you will have a strong urge to pick up your phone because “maybe there is something important”. Next thing you think, since you’ve picked up your phone, why not check out how many new “likes” you get, so you open Facebook and browse. Suddenly you read the news saying that there was a robbery near your home recently. You clicked in and just read a few sentences, and an advertisement for casual shoes popped up, so you glanced at it. At this time, I received a new notification saying that a friend left you a message, so you hurried to check. When you look up, you realize that work has been left behind by you.
  The brain is still in the mode of operation that evolved over the past 10,000 years, facing an uncertain outcome, that is, when we receive a text message, we will secrete dopamine as a reward, so we are firmly grasped by the urge to “want to look at the phone” . The brain is obsessed with new things, especially those things that are exciting and even dangerous. This is where the appeal of “The Heist” comes into play. The notification of friends’ messages will bring a sense of participation in social interaction, allowing us to focus on the matter of “how many people have liked me”.
  This series of mechanisms is the brain’s survival strategy, and they ensure that you are hit by electronic sugar-coated cannonballs one after another. The brain doesn’t mind being interrupted by these things at all. Because its evolutionary purpose has never been “ancillary work”, but to help our ancestors survive.