Why are mobile phones are so addictive ?
In most face to face relationships, particularly amongst couples, mobile phone has become an area of annoyance and conflict. More people complain about their partners mobile phone usage than anything else. Why is that?
Mobile has become an extension of ourselves. The many devices that we used to manage our lives have now combined into one gadget. Diary, contacts, communication, phone calls, camera, entertainment, and so much more. The most notable of all this is communication. From email, text, Whatsapp, to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn. Information now flows from all these various channels to our mobile phones. Our entire world has come to exist on our finger tips.
That is all great but why is the mobile phone so addictive.
The phenomenon is known as variable ratio reinforcement. We seek positive reinforcements to feel connected and wanted with our family, friends, colleagues and contacts. We look forward to receiving emails, texts and video messages because they might be the carriers of some positive reinforcement for us. Making us feel special or connecting us with someone unexpected. But we don’t know after how many messages we will receive this positive reinforcement. Because lets face it – there is a lot of junk coming through the phone as well.
If we knew that the positive reinforcement was coming after every fifth message (fixed ratio reinforcement) then there would only check every fifth message. But because this number is variable and unknown, we keep checking because our need for need to receive this positive reinforcement is greater than our desire to quit.
This pattern of behavior is often seen in gambling addiction and other types of addictions.
The more these positive reinforcements come our way, the more we want them. The continuous reward system makes the addiction stronger with time. Our sense of self and the ego strength contribute to this addiction and our ability to manage our relationship with the mobile phone.
Some quick changes
You can learn to manage your addiction by following some simple rules. Create a phone free zone in your home, some phone free time and learn to put it away during face to face conversations.