Among other things, people are hooked to their phones when they are waiting for a friend, or in a socially-awkward situation. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)
Wherever you look, you will find people — young and old — on their phones, their necks craned in an uncomfortable angle. What is it with people compulsively checking their smartphones, even when there is nothing going on virtually? This habit has been talked about and highlighted in the past, but now, a group of scientists at the University of Washington (UW), have figured out some triggers behind this. Read on.
For the study, the team at UW interviewed some 39 smartphone users in 2017 and 2018, between ages 14 and 64. The participants were asked about the apps they use, so as to find out which of them could lead to this compulsive behaviour. While many said they keep going back and forth between social media apps, others cited mails, YouTube, games and text messaging.
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Scientists revealed four common triggers: filling up a void, such as when they are waiting for a friend and are unoccupied; when they are in a socially-awkward situation; when they are waiting in anticipation for a message or a notification; before or while doing a tedious and repetitive task.
The participants also shared some common triggers that made them stop their compulsive behaviour: the sudden realisation that they have been on their phone for way too long; the demands of the real world; meeting up with someone, or needing to drive somewhere; coming across content that they have already seen.
Getting rid of the habit
Previous researches have thrown some light on ways in which this habit can be kicked. Some of the unique ways included setting the smartphone screen on grey-mode at night, meaning removing all its colours, so as to focus on studies better, or to get under the covers on time for a good nightly nap. Some experts even suggested to keep the phone out of the bedroom from at least an hour before your bedtime.
Some other researches have concluded that it is not really the phone but the apps present inside that trigger the compulsive behaviour. As such, when there are talks about smartphone addiction, the buzz is really around social media addiction, for example.