Unless your phone weighs in at about 5 pounds, uses a 3ft. retractable antenna complete with a monochrome screen and 11 “D” batteries, odds are you and your mobile phone are “tight.


We see it every day…whether you’re in the office, school, driving, or on a date, mobile devices have embedded themselves into everyday life, and like most, people can’t seem to put them down. It’s become routine. With technology making it so easy to stay “connected”, it’s only a matter of seconds before that next viral meme, breaking news, or latest gossip comes across your screen. And while there are so many benefits to staying connected, at what point is the interaction between you and your new BFF (mobile device) a little too much?

Hey…. I get it. I fall victim to this all the time. Who doesn’t spend their downtime these days scrolling through news feeds, swiping left, swiping right, or playing a virtual game of tag? Ironically enough, mobile phones have become this generations coping mechanism. Much like Gin and TV delivering a sense of freedom throughout the years, this new addiction is displacing “our” time from one source to another. Mobile devices empower the user. Users dictate what they want to subject themselves to and how long the user desires the exposure to last. Who doesn’t like power right? However, this black hole that keeps sucking us in is numbing other aspects of our lives.

Life’s all about choices. It’s the tradeoff that exists when we sacrifice one option in order to gain another. That said, CNN recently released a poll conducted by Common Sense Media that revealed 50% of teens are addicted to their mobile device. In their “Nomophobia” or No-Mo-Phone-Bia quiz, participants answered a series of questions and rated their responses with a 1-7 scale, and based on a person’s score, one could determine how much anxiety someone may experience when they’re without their mobile device, or simply cannot access it.


But who’s to blame for creating this insatiable bond? Are we prisoners of our own device? Perhaps not.

Evil Smile

Mobile device manufacturers and app developers are using various techniques to deliberately attract your attention – and they’re getting more successful at it.

In the end, the goal is to reel you in and hold your attention. And maybe that’s the very reason that explains how the rapid rise in social media platforms correspond with the rise in advertising dollars funneled in by large companies.

While this may seem like an obvious scheme, what’s not apparent is if consumers are consciously looking out for these deceptive tactics. Business Insider recently investigated what actually happens to consumers based on the mobile apps they use. Below is a list of some of the most popular ways in which you become glued to your mobile device:

Push Notifications

Push Notification.png

These notifications are sent to attract you. Whether it’s from friends or the platform itself, this habit-forming technique is often credited with doubling the amount of time someone interacts with a specific app.

The Spinning Wheel

Spinning Wheel.png

Simply put, it’s the same premise for how casinos keep your attention. Users hope to uncover new media each time they initiate spinning wheel in hopes of a “small” payout. Is new content really loading or is the app only choosing to show you certain details?



Fear Of Missing Out! Are you so close to unlocking a new feature if you only send this chain message to 10 of your friends?

Social Reciprocity

Social Reciprocity.png

Turning your impulses into obligations in order to add people that may or may not add value to your social network.

Facebook Memories

FB Memories.png

If Life becomes too hectic, don’t worry! Your friends at Facebook were nice enough to keep track of your life. Care to view your most monumental moments of 2017?

Snapchat Streaks

Snap Streaks.png

I think we all know what this is all about…bragging rights.

So, what’s the common thread here? All these different tactics address you directly and influence you to reengage with your mobile device.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mobile phone use is partially to blame for the distracted driving that kills an estimated nine people each day. And to make matter worse, millennials are the worst offenders, especially for texting while driving. Have attention spans been so distorted that individuals can’t function without their faces glued to their phones?

Many families, relationships, and even individuals themselves have gone to great lengths to remedy this phenomenon. From “no phone zones”, to “locking it up”, and even “timed” windows to help mitigate this craze, somehow or another, we always find ourselves back on our mobile devices.

So, I guess I’ll leave you with this…

Are we really in control of the content we subject ourselves to, or is this another sly tactic? As always, sound off in the comments and thank you for kikinitwithraf!


  1. murphycobc · ·

    I totally go back and forth on this one. Am I an addict? Maybe. I’ve been trying to put into place some “mindfulness” when it comes to my phone, because as I think with most things in life, moderation is key.

    I think with all marketing, their goal is to have you using their product or service as much as possible – so it has been made very easy to just be attached to your phone all the time because that was the goal. I have noticed in some of my friends this push back – leaving phones at home for a spell, turning off notifications, giving up social media – and while I don’t think it’s a widespread trend catching fire, I do wonder if the pendulum will swing the other way at any point and have society reject technology and go Walden on us. My guess is no, but I think with every intense swing in one direction, comes an opposite swing at some point in the future.

  2. Tully Horne · ·

    I think it depends on your personality for our generation. I have a more addictive personality so I find myself more glued to my phone. But I think the generation behind us is in trouble. I got my first phone in 8th grade, but I have seen much younger kids with much better phones than the flip phone I got. Being glued to the phone at a stage in life where the brain is developing most must have adverse effects and it must help shape an addictive personality. With that being said, I agree with Colleen that marketing companies are simply doing their job by trying to get us to use their products and services as much as possible. We have to take it upon ourselves to know when to put our phones down. Moreover, I think our generation is pivotal in creating an environment where technology is prevalent and used beneficially, but also not too involved to the point it has adverse effects.

  3. The part about the spinning wheel being the same tactic used by casinos really got me because the parallels are uncanny and while it may seem a bit comical to compare the two the opportunity cost is pretty similar. The more time you spend in a casino the more money you win/lose, but the more time you spend on your phone the more time you lose (see how there’s no time to be won). And that’s precisely the problem you can’t get the time you spend on your phone back, there’s no undoing the mindless scrolling. And while I agree we have to take it upon ourselves to make healthy choices surrounding this ubiquitous tech, we need to be conscious of the effects that phones have on brain development when we given them to younger children who grow up with them in a much more intimate way than each generation prior.

  4. Jobabes121 · ·

    A great post! I agree with both @tullyhornebc and @murphycobc that social media’s marketing tactics to instill addictive behavior into the users have been working effectively. I also agree that the generation behind us are in quite a trouble, as their lives will revolve around social media and technology even more than ours. However, as this becomes a more significant problem, I also envision numerous groups and companies who are against these addictive behaviors and provide solutions to these issues as a product. There are many addictive treatment providers already in terms of medical/psychological sense, but this treatment specific to mobile device that is more effective than one’s ability to “moderate oneself” might come into play in the future.

  5. Keenan Neff · ·

    I think this is a very relatable post. I too find myself to be very addicted to my phone. One of the features that you listed above that goes unnoticed that I believe to be one of the main reasons why I am always on my phone is the push notifications. Every time someone interacts with me on a social media platform, I get a push notification. Usually I feel the buzz in my pocket, and immediately reach to look and see what it is. Having the notification on your screen before you open it makes you want to slide right and access the app. There is such a difference between a lock screen where it is just your background, and a lock screen where you have many push notifications. For me personally, I am very eager to see what the notification is, and I can’t stand having a list of push notifications on my lock screen, so I usually engage in the app right when they come up to get rid of them. I know that you can change the settings on your phone to stop the banners from coming up on your lock screen, but I, along with probably many others, would feel unimportant if we went the whole entire day without a push notification popping up on our lock screens. It gives me a sort of excited feeling that I do not think I can ever give up, which is why it is such an important feature that makes people addicted to their phones.

  6. thebobbystroup · ·

    This blog post reminds me of an article I read last week written by @tarakane36 ( In response to the above comments, I do not think that cell phone addiction is truly as prevalent as people think it is. Often people think that habits formed (such as wanting to constantly check Facebook) are automatically addictions. Addiction is much more serious. says “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” I doubt most people will experience “severe trauma” if they go on a week-long camping trip and don’t have cell service.

  7. jamessenwei · ·

    Great post that I’m sure many of us can relate to. I think for social media addiction, the FOMO affect is very apparent in getting people to sign up for apps and return to them. Just this weekend, I finally caved in to FOMO and signed up for an Instagram account and I have already noticed that it employs many of tactics you highlight including those notifications and the spinning wheel. But I think on a basic level many of the tactics you list are actually variations upon leveraging FOMO. We want to impulsively check our notification for fear if missing something. We mindlessly refresh our feed to see if you missed out anything since the minute before the last time we refreshed our feed. I think much of the draw of social media is that it has convinced us we need to be up to date all the time and all of their tactics are merely reminders that we can be, if we are on it all the time.

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