Are smartphones really making us anti-social?

Researchers say addiction to our devices stems from a desire for MORE personal connection

It seems these days that most people are glued to their devices, often spending more time looking down at a screen than interacting face-to-face, according to Daily Mail.

But, according to new research, smartphone addiction might not be as isolating as it appears.

A team of cognitive anthropologists studying the ‘dysfunctional’ use of smart devices has found that our dependence on the technology likely stems from a desire to connect with other people.

Based on this, the researchers say we may not be addicted to smartphones after all – instead, we’re addicted to social interactions.

‘There is a lot of panic surrounding this topic,’ says Professor Samuel Veissière.

‘We’re trying to offer some good news and show that it is our desire for human interaction that is addictive – and there are fairly simple solutions to deal with this.’

In the new study, the researchers analyzed literature on the dysfunctional use of smart technology through an evolutionary lens.

According to the researchers, these devices tap into our basic needs as a uniquely social species.

Humans tend to seek meaning and a sense of identity through their interactions with others.

Thus, addiction to smartphones and other devices may be considered hyper-social, not anti-social, the researchers say.

But, the pace and scale at which they’re used could put the brain’s reward system in ‘overdrive,’ they warn.

‘In post-industrial environments where foods are abundant and readily available, our cravings for fat and sugar sculpted by distant evolutionary pressures can easily go into insatiable overdrive and lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, the pro-social needs and rewards can similarly be hijacked to produce a manic theater of hyper-social monitoring,’ the authors explain in the paper.

The researchers urge taking certain steps to avoid unhealthy smartphone use.

By turning off push notifications or setting aside appropriate times to check your phone, they say those with smartphone ‘addictions’ can regain control of their use.

And, they say it’s important for workplaces to ‘prohibit evening and weekend emails,’ to allow employees to disconnect.

‘Rather than start regulating the tech companies or the use of these devices, we need to start having a conversation about the appropriate way to use smartphones,’ Veissière said.

‘Parents and teachers need to be made aware of how important this is.’