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By using psychological tricks, app designers have got you hooked!

A recent study found that teens in college check their phone 150 times in a day. The reason for checking their smartphones was found to be FOMO: fear of missing out on information.

App developers are using this information to their advantage by adding elements in apps to make you stay longer than you intended to. Here’s how.

New notification alerts
Former Google employee Tristan Harris points out that some apps take a second or two longer for the notifications to appear on your screen. This technique is called the “slot machine effect.” The feeling that you’re going to be rewarded as soon as you open Twitter or Facebook.

Default setting
Most apps have a default setting to send you all notifications from comments on your posts, friends’ comments on your posts, picture/video uploads by friends and even if your friend has posted something after a long time. There is a process to change the settings, which many don’t bother to. The objective of this technique is to get you back to use the app.

Timeless scroll
Will the feed ever end? You guessed it right, it might never. Using the FOMO; fear of missing out phenomenon among teens, app developers provide an endless stream of content to keep you hooked.

Spinning wheel
When you swipe down on any app, a spinning wheel indicates that the page is getting refreshed. However, sometimes there aren’t any more updates and still it takes the same amount of time. Here is another trick to watch out for.

Memories – keep track of your social life
What did you do on this day eight years ago? Well, Facebook will tell you! Don’t we all open the app to see who’s birthday is coming next? Not only do apps know more about us, we depend on them for notifications around our social lives as well.

Hence, comes the question, how much is too much? Look out for these symptoms:

  • If you spend more than 5 hours on your mobile phone
  • If you feel dependent on your phone
  • If you panic when you don’t check your phone in a long time
  • If you check your phone first thing in the morning
  • If you check your phone in the middle of the night for updates

If you check all the above points, you need help. Teentalk India Expert Kshitija Sawant lists some tips for you let go of mobile addiction.

  1. Be mindful: Stay focused on your present and be aware of your short-term and long-term goals, even while you’re browsing through memories that are more than a year old.
  2. In order to build healthy and long-lasting relationships, make sure you use your online connections and platforms as a means to plan for some real-world meet up events.
  3. Prioritize and make sure you set aside time for face to face interactions with friends, family or people who matter to you the most.
  4. Allot only specific hours in a week to mobile phone usage.  For example, once a week, make sure to have a ‘no technology day’ or ‘no usage of mobile phone day’. That will give you a lot of free time to pursue other sports or recreational activities which are interactive in nature.
  5. Switch off your mobile phone for specific hours in a week and hand them over to your family members.  Knowing that you’re accountable for your mobile phone usage will help you to stay grounded.