Is your smartphone taking over your life? Research shows that the answer's probably "yes." In fact, they're designed to be addictive.
Harvard Business School professor Dr. Leslie Perlow's research shows that 70-percent of us check our smartphones within an hour of waking up and again just before bedtime. And half of smartphone owners spend time online on weekends and on vacation, even though their families say it lessens the quality of their time together.
To make matters worse, the Institute of Advanced Motorists found that a quarter of young drivers can't resist reading texts, tweets, and email when they're behind the wheel! No wonder distracted driving is one of the top causes of accidents the world over.
So, what is it about smartphones that makes otherwise sane people take risks with their relationships and wellbeing? Dr. David Greenfield is the author of Virtual Addiction. And he says blames something called variable ratio reinforcement. To put it simply, when we're only rewarded some of the time, we're more likely to repeat a behavior. In fact, that's why slot machines are so popular and profitable. Smartphone users are like gamblers hoping to hit the jackpot. We never know when we'll get a tweet or text that'll make us happy. So, we keep checking our phones to make sure we don't miss anything.
So, how can you break your smartphone addiction? Peter DeLisi is the Dean of Information Technology at Santa Clara University. He says you should start by establishing your car as a "phone free zone." You should also turn off your device whenever you're interacting with other people. If just hearing those suggestions makes you nervous, consider this: Research shows that people who take regular breaks from their phones are less stressed, more productive at work, and happier in their relationships.