The Top 4 Ways Your Phone Can Negatively Affect You (not including Social Media)
We’re deep into 2020 now and it’s also been a long two years since Google, Apple, and many other big tech hotshots started announcing their Digital Wellbeing initiatives. We’ve even had “The Social Dilemma” go viral on Netflix for discussing the harmful effects of social media.
Regardless of any viral documentary, it’s safe to assume that in this year of pandemic, most of us are now aware of how social media creates an endless flywheel of searching, liking, sharing, commenting, and of course — watching.
These next 4 points discuss ways your internet-connected mobile devices are could be negatively affecting you:
1. Mental Debt
Studies have shown that our minds will subconsciously keep track of our smart phone’s location. In one study, students scored lower on a test the closer they were to their smartphone — implying that there was a degree of cognitive attention spent on potentially being able to use the phone.
This is linked with the mobile device’s high utility and emotional value given each of its different uses. Just think about it: not only can you contact everyone you’ve ever known, but with a few words in a google search bar, you have access to a near-infinite amount of consumable information.
The keywords here are contact and information. Humans are biologically designed to look for information and to look out for the herd. Because we can do both with our phones, it is postulated that our attention is drawn to the virtual environment where our phone allows us to do each of these things.
2. Investments Apps and Watching the Market
Unless you’re a professional day-trader, it probably isn’t good for your mental health (or your portfolio) to be checking the stock market on a daily basis. And, for the most part, people historically do not.
However, with free brokerage apps like Robinhood and especially WeBull, your stock portfolio is treated as a media channel where these services make their money off recommending market news relevant to your portfolio. Because this is the business model, the consumption of information is constantly rewarded. as each of these apps is designed to keep you coming back regularly to read the news and engage with your stocks.
Furthermore, many similar apps have chatrooms or twitter-like feeds that allow you to see what the average-Joe is thinking of any stock at any given moment — providing another avenue that provokes many users to over-engage with their portfolio.
With that being said, investing is important to a financially-stable future so you should be using these apps… Just make sure to look out for the following things:
- How are you managing your notifications?
- Are you letting a constant influx of market news create anxiety in your trading decisions?
- Are you constantly coming back every few hours or days just to check your portfolio value, without any intention to buy or sell?
3. Predatory User Experiences
Predatory User Experiences are too numerous to count. In fact, in the time it took you to log on to your computer or phone, open the medium app, and read this article… it is likely you have taken part in a predatory user experience.
Predatory User Experiences come in many shapes and forms: from the obvious casino-like monetization schemes of mobile games to the lesser-known and more sinister. These user experiences are known as dark patterns.
While I won’t be going into Dark Patterns in too much detail, an example of a dark pattern is the series of hoops Amazon used to make someone go through to cancel their membership. It went something like this:
- First, they would look at their profile settings, unable to find the cancel button.
- Then, if they could find the cancel button by searching for it, the user would be asked so many questions about their cancellation, that they might bounce from the page thinking they had already canceled.
- If they didn’t notice the user would then be charged for their membership again.
4. Blue Light
Since the beginning of the 2020 pandemic, blue light glasses have sold particularly well, and that is no surprise. A more subtle consequence of using mobile devices (and screens in general) is the exposure to “blue light,” a high frequency of light that is extremely stimulating. In nature, believe it or not, blue light actually comes from the sun and is how our human bodies detect that it is time to wake up and be active. Purchasing glasses to protect you from blue light will prevent migraines from overstimulation, and allow you to get better sleep since your brain won’t get tricked into thinking it is daytime during a late-night Netflix binge.
Bonus: Your Pop-Socket
Try not to play with the darn thing so much ;)
Thanks for reading.