Technology addiction

I’ve talked a bit about this before but I think technology addiction is going to become a growing issue in 2015 and beyond. According to the most recent Economist, the average smartphone user now checks their phone around 150 times per day and as the market for your attention grows more and more competitive between all the media and technology companies, their products will become even stickier.

It’s the subject of Hooked which is getting lots of good write-ups this week. You can see why anybody building new digital products might want to read it — as the blurb says:

Hooked is a guide to building habit-forming technology, written for product managers, designers, marketers, and startup founders to provide:

  • Practical insights to create habits that stick.
  • Actionable steps for building products people love and can’t put down.
  • Behavioral techniques used by Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and others.

We’re hardwired to create habits. Combine a cue, an activity, a reward and repeat and you’ve got yourself something that your brain wants to do over and over again. That can be a good thing if you’re in control of it and building your own positive habits. But it can also lead to addiction if you’re not.

Like all addictions, there can be deeper issues at play. This BBC documentary last year about a military style internet addiction camp in China shows more about intergenerational issues than it does about the technology itself.

I’m not sure there are any easy answers but awareness is the first step to taking action so it’s something I’m trying to learn more about.

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