For some time now, I find myself looking at my smartphone with a frequency that is frankly disconcerting. In committee meetings, lectures, sporting venues, social events, and other settings, my eyes and fingers find themselves gravitating to that little rectangular device.
The screen comes to life when my fingerprint is recognized and some bit of data, a text or email message, a news headline or other snippet of information is delivered to me.
Sometimes there is good news. Sometimes great news. Occasionally, the news is disappointing. And sometimes there really isn’t any news worth seeing. Then I put the device down, only to find myself looking back at it within a few minutes.
Some people are critical of this habit. They say that looking at a phone all day means you are not fully engaged with your surroundings and not living in the moment. But I have found it very, very difficult to stop.
Now I know why. This phone habit of mine is not like a chemical dependency—it is a chemical dependency. Or so says recent research published in Current Biology.1 My attention was garnered in an article about this work entitled “Why You Can’t Stop Checking Your Phone.”2