We’ve all witnessed it—a group of people ostensibly together all looking down, sucked into the digital abyss of their devices. Since 2011, the percentage of Americans who own such a device grew from 35 percent to 77 percent, according to a 2018 PEW Research report. Common Sense Media, which conducted a survey of children up to age 8 who use mobile devices, found a tenfold increase in mobile device screen time, from about 5 minutes in 2011 to 48 minutes in 2017.
Many consider our behavior with mobile devices to be antisocial and perhaps even addictive; however, one researcher claims it simply means we like people. Samuel Veissière, an assistant professor in the Culture, Mind and Brain Program at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, says, “If there is addiction to smartphones, it is first and foremost a behavioral addiction rather than an addiction to the devices themselves. It is rooted in human evolution and, in particular, in the need to connect with others, to compare ourselves to others, to compete with others and to learn from others.”
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