Mesmerized by the infinite novelty, and perpetually reinforced by the dose of dopamine that’s sure to come with that newness, we’re lead by our communication and entertainment devices to wherever they can take us – faster, easier, steadily absorbing more time and focus. Like a needy friend, they can keep us tending to its demands for attention every waking hour. Sitting at a stop light, I sneak in a quick update from my iPhone for new messages, hoping for something wonderful, or at least interesting or funny. At meetings, I watch colleagues regularly glancing down in their laps to see the latest input on their notepad or phone, and kids with their families in restaurants texting, earphones in, playing games while dinner is served.
And why not. Bright and shiny new apps, games and the hardware to go with them, show up regularly. Hand held technology has, in many ways, made life more convenient, sometimes it’s changed history, saved lives, kept us in touch around the world. Technology and the media it makes accessible are intriguing, providing the endless novelty that guarantees us a dopamine fix when it works, and just as surely when it drives us crazy. Get excited, get angry, it’s all the same to the amygdala which asks no questions before shooting us a fix.
Stock market’s down? Global temperatures rising? Terrorists taking innocent lives? What easier distraction than getting lost in texts, e-mails or instant gaming?
It’s been so much fun and the perfect diversion from life’s tough issues; from enormous national and global challenges, to problems at work, personal relationships, and of course, homework.
- adult video gamers adult gamers find time to spend 10 hours or more per week to play,
- while 8-18 year olds average over 50 hours per week using a computer for entertainment purposes.
- American teens are on average, sending or receiving 3,339 texts a month, about 150 per day, or more than 6 every waking hour!