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Are smartphones addictive?

Addiction comes in many forms. Some are addicted to food, some to alcohol and still others to success. Whatever addiction drives those who suffer from the addiction can lead to destructive behaviors. Those addicted to alcohol, for example, can drink too much and make poor choices.

But what about those addicted to cellphones? It may seem like a bizarre thought, but a professor of psychiatry out of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine is asking just this question.

What is the connection between addiction science and smartphone use?

A recent article by CNN discussed the issue, noting that smartphones affect the brain in a similar manner to sex. Hearing that "ping" indicating an incoming text or social media update results in the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that triggers arousal and sets off the reward centers in our brains. This then leads to the expectation of a reward that leads to another dopamine release.

When this reward reaction is combined with repeated smartphone use that does not result in an accident, drivers begin to develop a false sense of security. A "that won't happen to me" mindset when it comes to distracted driving accidents.

Research about this issue could lead to the development of apps that effectively shut down notification updates while driving.

Does this mean victims of distracted driving accidents should give addicted drivers a pass?

Absolutely not. There was a similar issue when victims were attempting to deal with accidents that resulted from drunk driving. Ultimately, the thought that drivers should be held accountable for their actions held true then and holds true now.

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