An individual spends an average of more than one day every week on the phone. Unfortunately, the constant connection does nothing to take you closer to your loved ones. In fact, it’s actually creating more unhappiness. But in that case, why don’t we just throw that phone and delete all social media accounts?
Here is a video that shows how our smartphones, especially, the apps and the algorithms that guide our interaction with the apps, play with the habit-forming parts of our brain. They trigger us in a way that we keep going back to them, and to linger long even after you have answered a notification or the interaction is over.
Everything on your phone apps – from the hypnotic buzzing alerts to the brightly colored notifications are meant to make you go back to that app or website, again and again, in order to receive a mental ‘reward’.
Facebook may keep you connected with people around the world but Facebook also has another, lesser known goal – to keep you online for as long as possible, eventually boosting their ad revenue.”
3 Ways Technology plays Psychological Tricks
Here is a look at the top psychological tricks your phones, apps, and social media play on your mind to keep you going back to the screen and craving even more.
- Persuasive design
Have you or someone you know been binge-watching a Netflix series? Just to know what happens next? This ‘knowing what happens next’ is a like a reward to your brain and it is this phenomenon that is being exploited by the apps to keep you scrolling.The system works on a trigger-action-reward principle followed by an investment.
In the phone apps, receiving a notification acts as a trigger, the action is you clicking on the app, seeing someone liked or commented on our photo is the reward. But it doesn’t stop with the reward. The app has ab inbuilt investment system. By allowing you to reply to the comment, the app ensures you will come back later to see if your friend replied back! Impressive, isn’t it?
- Pavlovian conditioning
This is an experiment you can run yourself. In a room full of people with the same ringtone or alert tone, as soon as an alert goes off, everyone checks their phones.
How did we reach here?
You may have heard of classical conditioning, and Pavlov’s dog.For those of you who don’t, the Russian psychologist, Pavlov discovered in 1890 that if a bell was rung every time he fed his dog, in some time, the dog began salivating every time the bell rang — even with no food present!
We have been conditioned to sneak a peek at our phones every time we hear a notification alert or tone, even if what is appearing on the screen is not worth our time.
- Operant conditioning
Another psych trick apps use to keep us craving for more is to make the reward unpredictable. Now that’s something even more powerful than a simple reward. Operant conditioning goes beyond classical conditioning, and creates a learned pattern of behavior. While this is a highly effective method of forming a habit, it can also lead to addiction.
For example, you the in-app alert appears as a bright-red bubble. To learn what the notification means – whether it’s an invitation to a party, a comment on your latest pic, or a like, you have to click on the notification and open the app to finally obtain your “reward.”
The technology is designed so well that most of us fail to notice how we are being conditioned.
6 Tips to Beat the Smartphone Addiction Cycle
So how can you break away from your phone without throwing it out of the window or deactivating your social media accounts?
Since your addiction to your smartphone is primarily based on conditioning, overcoming the addiction means un-conditioning yourself, doesn’t it?
Here are a few tips that can help you overcome the smartphone addiction.
- Use Psych Tricks to break the addiction. Since mind tricks are what made you get addicted in the first place, you can play some other tricks to undo it. Cognitive Hypnotic techniques, such as Reframing, If-Then statements and Anchoring are extremely effective at changing habits and behavior patterns.
- Set aside a time to check your apps. Check your phone only at certain pre-decided times during the day.
- Delete apps you don’t use. For example, if you mostly use Facebook messages, it makes sense to download Facebook Messenger and delete the Facebook app. It will save you from irrelevant notifications, without missing messages from your friends.
- Keep your phone out of reach. If you’re finishing a task, keep your phone away from where you are sitting.
- Turn push notifications off. You can still check your apps when you want, without an alert tone or a red notification bubble prompting you to look every 10 minutes.
- Use a screen time tracker. Let the lesser amount of time you spend on your phone become a reward in itself. A screen time tracker will make you feel better when you spend less time on social media and other apps you can reduce time on.
To learn more about behavior patterns and how to change them, check out this blog.