Your smartphone is doing some grim things to your brain - here's what you need to know 3 years ago

Your smartphone is doing some grim things to your brain - here's what you need to know

Hold on just a second. Let me finish this message. Ok, we're good. No, wait. Sorry. Really sorry about this.

Ok, right. Done. Using our mobile phones all the time is bad for us apparently because it conditions us as you would a simple lab rat, teaching us to respond to any given stimuli whenever and wherever it occurs.


All the buzzes, vibrations, pings and rings our phone gives off are slowly eroding our attention span and leaving us addicted to the giddy thrill of discovering who or what wants our attention, be it an app or a real person.

We knew all this already though, didn't we? People never played FarmVille under their desks at work without realising they had a seriously problem, did they? They were slaving away for virtual coins to buy things for a farm that doesn't exist instead of working for actual money. They knew they were in too deep.

Black Mirror

But it's a bit more serious than we think. Most of us stare at our phones for five hours a day, long enough to watch Inception twice, which is actually what I am doing most of the time anyway. Instead of, you know, talking to loved ones or something pointless like that.

Not only this but according to Professor Ofir Turel of California State University, around 11% of people in western countries are though to suffer from some form of technology addiction.


Another scientist, Robert Lustig - who is an Endocrinologist - recently told Science Alert that the constant stream of alerts and notifications means that our brains are left in a perpetual state of stress. Like when you leave the house and you're not absolutely 100% sure you didn't leave the hob on but you're running a bit late so you risk your house blowing up for a dental appointment or something. We've all done it.

The constant stress causes our prefrontal cortex "to go haywire", according to Lustig, meaning our cognitive function can become muddled and we can start making mistakes. Like getting fired from your real job because you were caught playing FarmVille.

Larry Rosen, a psychology professor again at California State, also points out the dramatic physical effects that occur in people, even when there is nothing happening to actually check: "Their heart rates increase. Their skin tingles. They grow increasingly antsy with every minute they don’t look at the screen."

Image credit Getty

The answer? Well, you're not going to like it. It's to use your phone less. Which is especially difficult as tech giants like Google and Facebook use techniques borrowed from casinos to keep us opening their apps. Former product manager at Google Tristan Harris has even admitted so, telling CBS news: "Every time I check my phone, I’m playing the slot machine to see, 'What did I get?' This is one way to hijack people’s minds and create a habit, to form a habit."

So there you have it. The big corporations are evil and they want to treat you like laboratory mice.

All you need to do is read a few more of our articles and then maybe put down the phone for a bit. Maybe try talking to your family after all. Maybe watch Inception on repeat. It's up to you. But definitely, definitely delete FarmVille.