By Dr David Greenfield
A New Normal
Americans have not as of yet decided how to deal with the incursion of portable digital technologies into our everyday public life. We are only now just beginning to address the intrusion these devices can and do create in our public places and spaces, and we are only now starting to develop new social norms on how and when we use them.
How to be Present and Simultaneously Absent
The problem with all these portable technologies (mainly Smartphones) is that the freedom they afford us in unfettered access creates a public statement that: “Where I am and what I am doing now is not where I actually am or want to be”. In short, all these technologies in effect shift time and space. A rather disconcerting feeling is communicated indirectly when we are in a public space yet seem to be connected […]
On Sept. 22, 2006, Reggie Shaw, 19, climbed into his sport utility vehicle to head to a painting job. He picked up a Pepsi at the local gas station and started over the mountain pass between Tremonton, Utah, his hometown, and Logan, the big city to the east, near the Idaho border.
It was 6:30 in the morning, and freezing rain was falling. Just behind Reggie was John Kaiserman, a farrier, who was driving a truck and trailer carrying a thousand pounds of horseshoes and equipment. Mr. Kaiserman noticed Reggie swerve several times across the yellow divider and thought: This guy is going to cause us all some trouble.
Reggie came over a big crest and headed down a hill, traveling around 55 miles an hour as he hit a flat stretch. He crossed the yellow divider again. This time, he clipped a Saturn heading the other direction on the two-lane highway. Inside the Saturn were two men, Jim Furfaro and Keith O’Dell, commuting to work.
We’ve all experienced some of the social and interpersonal disruptions brought on with smartphone overuse; fewer face-to-face conversations, greater distractions, and a certain “hyper-vigilance” an inattention brought out with the anticipation of incoming text messages and phone calls. And all too often, what used to pass for manners and common courtesy has fallen by the wayside.
With smartphone usage in developed countries like the U.K. hovering around 71% of all households, the problem of smartphone overuse isn’t going away anytime soon. This recent story from TechRadar.com features interviews with Dr. David Greenfield and psychologist Phil Reed of Swansea University and sheds some new light on the subtle, insidious addictive qualities of smartphone use.
App addicts: has your smartphone become a drug?
The complete story from TechRadar.com is available here:
A great source of information on the latest advances in the study of Neurology is the Neurology Now site, a highly regarded journal for patients and their caregivers published by the American Academy of Neurology. In the most recent June/July 2014 issue, Dr. Greenfield was interviewed on the subject of “Game Theory: How do video games affect the developing brains of children and teens?”. According to Dr. Greenfield, gaming has definite addictive properties, as
“Playing video games floods the pleasure center of the brain with dopamine,” says David Greenfield, Ph.D., founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. That gives gamers a rush—but only temporarily, he explains. With all that extra dopamine lurking around, the brain gets the message to produce less of this critical neurotransmitter. The end result: players can end up with a diminished supply of dopamine.
Take a game like that away from addicted adolescents and they often show behavioral problems, withdrawal symptoms, even aggression, according to Dr. Greenfield.”
The compulsive (and frequently mindless) use of smartphones is a growing worldwide problem. Dr. Greenfield was recently interview by Tech Radar in the U.K. on this topic. Here is an excerpt from his interview with Simon Hill:
“It doesn’t matter where you are these days – people are being rude in a way they didn’t used to be. Ignoring you in the car or at a restaurant. Annoying everyone in the cinema. Blanking you at a party.
Look around and you’ll see why: there’s a good chance you’ll see at least one person using a smartphone. You might be reading this on one right now.
Smartphone penetration in the UK stands at 71% as of March this year according to data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech (with similar numbers in developed nations around the world) and that figure is still rising.
People take their smartphones to bed with them, lay them on the table as they eat, and even take them into the toilet.
The manners passed down from generation to generation are being forgotten in a Tweet. It’s not unusual for people to pull a […]