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Monday, October 14, 2013

Smartphone Users Border on Obsession

Scientists warn that repetitive checking of smartphones for news and emails, and using social networking and other services is becoming an obsessive habit.

Helsinki Institute for Information Technology researchers analyzed the habits of smartphone users in the US and Finland and found that many of the users are engaged in repetitive checking behaviors throughout the waking hours. 

According to the findings, a typical smartphone check lasts less than 30 seconds and involves opening the screen lock and accessing a single application. A considerable proportion of smartphone use consists solely of such checks. 

The checkings do not occur randomly; they are associated with a small set of contexts triggering them, such as reading emails when commuting or checking news while bored. 

Despite the high prevalence of the "checking habit," many of the users did not consider the behavior as an addiction, instead described it in terms of overuse or an annoyance, said the report published in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

"What concerns us here is that if your habitual response to, say, boredom, is that you pick up the phone to find interesting stimuli, you will be systematically distracted from the more important things happening around you," said Lead author Antti Oulasvirta. 

"Habits are automatically triggered behaviors and compromise the more conscious control that some situations require and studies are already starting to associate smartphone use to dire consequences like driving accidents and poor work-life balance," he warned. 

"Unfortunately, as decades of work in psychology shows, habits are not easy to change," Oulasvirta added about the new high-tech ground for manifestation of the addictive behavior. 

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