Apple, Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG: smartphone, my love!

We sleep with them and wake up to them. We talk to them and they listen to us; they talk to us and we listen to them. We are always in touch with them, they feel us at all times, and even stir our emotions. We have become closer to them than to our best friends. Smartphone addiction has become a reality.

The human brain responds to interactions with our environment, and even more to social interactions, should they take place with other human beings or with pets.  The importance of social interactions in the balance of an individual is widely recognized in all currents of psychology. A casual conversation, a glance, a smile, a hand upon an arm, a slap, an insult, a kiss, all of these feed our brains with stimuli. Biologically, the brain needs them, and consciously or unconsciously, it will do anything to get the amount of stimuli it needs. That amount is not an absolute and varies from one person to another, one environment to another, and so on. However, the need is here, and it can partly explain phenomenons such as the Stockholm syndrome where victims develop feelings of attachment toward those who mistreated them. Indeed, the mind would rather endure mistreatment than to suffer being ignored.

This is all interesting, but how does link with our subjects, the smartphones and our addiction to it? Smartphones are social objects. They are not regular phones anymore where one speaks to someone else, or sends and gets messages from: they are far more than that. Thanks to social networks, they have become the tools to link one person to an entire community, where one knows what everyone else is thinking and doing, and more importantly, where one gets feedback on his/her own life – likes, comments, shares and so on. This feedback is nothing but a stimulus, and the brain makes no difference between a stimulus coming from the virtual world or from the real world. Furthermore, these stimuli are easy to get and to give, as the level of personal implication and exposure can be very limited – sometimes to a simple click – online. Smartphones have become a tool to give our brains what they need in the one of the easiest way out there. This is how we have become addicted to them.