Why Phones Are So Addictive

Posted on September 13, 2017

Dopamine and oxytocin are chemicals in the brain that are released to produce a good feeling. These chemicals are released when you are closer to reaching a survival need, according to Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D. While your physical survival does not depend on your phone, your neural pathways are created from past experience and defines survival in this way. Hence, your neural pathways today are built by the activity that released the happy chemicals.

For people who find their phones addictive, the usage of the phone has created a neural pathway for the release of dopamine and oxytocin, the chemicals that make you feel happy, according to Breuning. However, once these chemicals are metabolised, you need to use your phone even more to produce more chemicals. This leads to the addictive feeling.

Cortisol is a chemical that is released when a potential threat is seen. This feeling remains until you can relieve it. If your phone is something that brought relief before, your brain will expect it to bring relief again. The brain is constantly looking for ways to feel good. Using your phone is a way that does not cause much adverse effects, like health impairments or legal issues.

It is better to accept your natural impulses as it helps you control them. Many people blame external factors like mobile phone makers for their phone addictions. However, this only impedes the understanding of how our impulses are formed. Without this understanding, we are unable to have power over our impulses.

Breuning suggests that when you find yourself reaching for your phone, remind yourself that you are doing so as your brain naturally scans for ways to feel good and relieve threats. Remind yourself that you are still safe when your dopamine and oxytocin levels are lowered. Have faith in yourself that you can meet your needs.


Source material from Psychology Today

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