Smartphone addiction may signify a ‘hyper-social’ behaviour

Toronto:  Are you branded as anti-social for being glued to your smartphones? Take heart — for, according to a study, smartphone addiction could be a hyper-social behaviour that stems from the healthy human desire to socialise.

Researchers have found that besides the desire to watch and monitor others, the longing to be seen and monitored by others, runs deep in our evolutionary past.

Thus, the most addictive smartphone functions shared a common theme of tapping into the human desire to connect with other people.

Humans evolved to be a uniquely social species and require constant input from others to seek a guide for culturally appropriate behaviour that also paved a path for them to find meaning, goals, and a sense of identity.

“In post-industrial environments where foods are abundant and readily available, our cravings for fat and sugar sculpted by distant evolutionary pressures can easily go into insatiable overdrive and lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (…) the pro-social needs and rewards (of smartphone use as a means to connect) can similarly be hijacked to produce a manic theatre of hyper-social monitoring,” said Samuel Veissière, Professor at the McGill University in Canada.

While smartphones harness a normal and healthy need for sociality, the pace and scale of hyper-connectivity pushes the brain’s reward system to run on overdrive, which can lead to unhealthy addictions, the researchers warned in a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Turning off push notifications and setting up appropriate times to check your phone can go a long way to regain control over smartphone addiction.

Also, workplace policies “that prohibit evening and weekend emails” may provide good results, the researchers said.

In the study, the team reviewed current literature on dysfunctional use of smart technology through an evolutionary lens.

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