Feeling phone-ly? Your body is being hijacked right now.

You might be fond of NatGeo: watching a tiger silently and patiently hiding in the bushes or tall grasses close to a deer, so the tiger could get an easy kill.

Alas, it is already too late when the tiger jumps out with all its agility and pounces on the deer.

“Please, let me say farewell to my Instagram followers,” the deer begs. Image source

Even the triggering of the neural pathway in the brain that alerts the deer to imminent danger is of no use anymore. Bon appétit.

The mechanism in the brain is vital for the survival of a species, human included. You might be surprised to know that the mechanism is being hijacked right now.

The culprit is, in fact, our assistant and friend for life: the smartphone.


Push notifications, vibrations and other alerts equipped with smartphones catch our attention through the same neural pathway which formerly alerts us to danger.

This finding is according to a very recent study (in a few weeks time) by San Francisco State University Professor of Health Education, Erik Peper, and his colleague, Richard Harvey.

However, instead of expecting a fight or flight situation from the trigger, humans now give the opposite response: a compelling or addiction to go to the source of ‘danger’ i.e. look at the smartphone.

Peper and Harvey put the blame on the tech industry, which only desire is to increase corporate profits.

“More eyeballs, more clicks, more money,” said Peper.

Just.. five.. more.. minutes! Image source

Just as opioid addiction

Nobody could deny the fact that many of us overuse the smartphone to the extent of being addicted. A statistic by Trust My Paper shows that an average person checks his phone 110 times a day!

“Just like what is experienced by people taking Oxycontin, the behavioral addiction of smartphone use begins to form a similar neurological connection in the brain,” Peper explains.

Oxycontin is opioid analgesics used by doctors to help relieve severe ongoing pain such as in cancer. Improper prescription and misuse could lead to overdose and death.

In a survey of 135 San Francisco State students, Peper and Harvey found that students who used their phones the most reported higher levels of feeling isolated, lonely, depressed and anxious.

They believe the loneliness is partly a consequence of replacing face-to-face interaction with a form of communication where body language and other signals cannot be interpreted.

Moreover, the same students are also found to be regularly involved in multitasking with their phones, leaving them less time for their bodies and minds to relax and regenerate.

The heart-balm

Feeling guilty or scared already? Here is the good news. We can train ourselves to be less addicted thus repairing the situation.

Peper suggested turning off all the push notifications that continuously distract you and crave for your attention all this while.

“Only respond to email and social media at specific times. Also, schedule some periods with no interruptions to focus on important tasks,” he added.

Being suffering from feeling ‘phone-ly’ and addiction? The best time to train yourself was last month, and the second time would be now.

Break a leg!

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