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"Notification overload." Behavioral impacts of cell phones

The focus surrounding cell phones is greater than ever. That's as Apple just released their latest iPhone line.

Posted: Sep. 30, 2017 2:09 AM
Updated: Sep. 30, 2017 2:09 AM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - The focus surrounding cell phones is greater than ever. That's as Apple just released their latest iPhone line.

A psychologist at Indiana State University says not only are these device consuming our time, they're consuming the way we think.

Professor Thomas Johnson says the brain actually releases endorphins when you get a notification. The same pleasure sensation as indulging in your favorite food.

Johnson says by nature we're built to go back to something that makes us feel good. Cell phone companies know that and feed us content that we continue to visit. Further, leading to a dependency.

“I could give up my cell phone up for a week. But I think it would be pretty hard. I'm just used to having it so I would need something in my hand. I'm kind of dependent on it but I could do it,” said Alexander Armstrong, a first-year student at ISU.

“It's like playing a slot machine. You're waiting for the next payoff. You wait for the next news article to come along or the next response to my Facebook post to come along,” said Johnson.  

The payoff with your cell phone also has some social implications. Johnson says key development phases for teenagers could be sacrificed because of cell phones.

We’re losing opportunities talking face to face, which may impact our social cues.

Vivian Gregory, a first-year student at ISU, says her device changes the way she and her peers act.

“I feel like it was hard for me to make friends this year because people were constantly on their phones, seeming all stuck up or snobby and wouldn't talk. So I had to do the same thing so I didn't feel awkward,” said Gregory.

A recent study published in Business Insider suggests receiving notifications is leading to anxiety. But when people turned off their notifications they felt anxious that they were missing important information.

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