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College Students Would Rather Go Hungry than Have no Smartphone

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Conversations about smartphone addiction have been heating up in various circles. Young people are in particular would be quite vulnerable to smartphone addiction, if it does indeed exist. Attention is being drawn to a research by the University of Buffalo. Apparently, undergraduates would breather be deprived food than their smartphones.

College students of right now are Millennials. They cannot recall life without the internet. They understand emojis better than any other language, written or spoken. Sara O’Donnell is a clinical psychology doctoral student at the University of Buffalo. Together with her professor Leonard Epstein, they have been exploring the idea that mobile phone handsets are “reinforcing”

Smartphone Addiction

O’Donnell was investigating whether smartphones had a reinforcing effect on users. Food and drugs have a reinforcing effect. Things have a reinforcing effect when they have a property of increasing the probability of a specific reaction or response when taken or used.

She noted that an ordinary person will use their cell phone for a cumulative five to nine hours a day. The researchers were surprised that the students the smartphones had higher reinforcing value than food.

A sample of students was made to work for access to smartphones, or food. High levels of motivation in the work to be done, represented a high reinforcing value for the reward expected. The students were more motivated when they were working for access to their smartphones.

Reinforcing does not necessarily mean addiction, but it is a strong indicator that something can addictive. More research is required to determine whether smartphone addiction is real, and how it can be diagnosed.

People’s needs for smartphones are quite diverse though. It would be wrong to assume that all college students use their smartphones for “snapchatting,” “Facebooking,” and many other activities of the sort. Some might need them for reading, taking notes, shopping, and of course communicating. These are activities you will need a smartphone for, but they cannot be termed as addictive. A combination of these activities might mean you spend a lot of time on the smartphone in a day.

The question should probably not be about how much time is spent on a smartphone, but about what is done during the time spent on the smartphone. There are people who are heavily reliant on their smartphones, not for entertainment or socializing, but for their day to day activities.

The fact that students would rather not eat but have their smartphones is worrying though. There is certainly a problem that needs closer attention.

 

 

 

 

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