Smartphone Addiction: Habit, Health, Happiness – Episode 28

man snorting iPhone addiction

Just how addicted are we to smartphones? What does it mean for our physical and mental health, and how much does it really matter?  Emily and Melanie review stats on usage, psychological research on smartphone habits, health impacts, and the unclear safety of cell phones.


I. Smartphone proliferation:

  1. Global cell phone subscription soared from 12.4 million in 1990 to 7 billion in 2013.
  2. 2.7 hours per day are spent socializing on our cell phones – twice the time we spend eating.
  3. The typical smartphone user spends regarding $107 monthly for wireless access-more than the typical house pays for electricity each month. –, 10/19/13
  4. 15.7 billion texts are sent each month. That’s 363,426 per minute or 6,057 right this second. –Pong Research, 2013
  5. New moms spend more time on smartphones (their “lifelines”) than other adults. Average 37 hours per month, 20% more time than the average millennial (~31 hours). –LA Times, 10/24/13


  • Research shows that 73 percent of Americans would feel “panicked” without their smartphones
  • In a 2013 study, 30% of people admitted to snooping on someone else’s mobile phone
  • 12%  of people surveyed are concerned that smartphones are damaging their relationships
Why do we instinctively pull out our phones when we have a moment of non-occupation?

mother checking her phone baby stroller falls downChecking habits:

Because we use smartphones in so many different situations, and to accomplish so many different tasks, we develop a vast range of triggers and cues associated with pulling them out and looking at them.
-Scott Campbell, a communications professor at the University of Michigan
What concerns us here is that if your habitual response to, say, boredom, is that you pick up the phone to find interesting stimuli, you will be systematically distracted from the more important things happening around you. Habits are automatically triggered behaviors and compromise the more conscious control that some situations require…

-Antti Oulasvirta, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

Impacts on Health: Cell Phone Radiation

  • In May 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified cell phone radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
  • Recall the hidden bit of legalese that comes in the safety manual for Apple’s iPhone 4: When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body, and only use carrying cases, belt clips, or holders that do not have metal parts and that maintain at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) separation between iPhone and the body.
  • Manufacturers of multiple smartphone brands place these warnings on user manuals to cover themselves in what is still a legally unclear situation. Continue reading “Smartphone Addiction: Habit, Health, Happiness – Episode 28”

Native Ads and Wearable Technology – Episode 25

Video thumbnail - Emily Binder and Melanie Touchstone - pisode 25 - The Digital Dive Podcast

Video: Native Ads and Wearable Technology – The Digital Dive Podcast – Episode 25 (Vimeo)
–>Watch on YouTube

1. Instagram Ads: Native Advertising (0:55-7:20)

What will it take for a successful native ad to work on Instagram? Hear which brands are succeeding now and why (Timberland, Redbull, Marc Jacobs). The Instagram community is sensitive and accustomed to an intimate app experience, so how IG rolls out advertising is crucial. Emily’s advice: Don’t be irrelevant and don’t be creepy.

Skinput arm - The Digital Dive Podcast- Native Ads and Wearable Technology

2. Wearables and Google Brain (07:20-12:39)

Mother wearing Google Glass holding baby wearing Google GlassWearable technology: it’s the future. We are so over interacting with our devices on hard surfaces in the physical world. How will the rules of social etiquette adjust for a bunch of Glassholes (10:39)? Emily likens our smartphone addiction to cigarette addiction: both compel the addict to remove themselves from the moment (15:05-15:20). Google Glass can take away the physical barrier – maybe it will bring us back to being present.

Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve new Apple VP black and whiteFashion meets technology: (16:40) On July 2, 2013 Apple recruited Yves Saint-Laurent CEO Paul Denève to work on a “special project,” (presumably the iWatch), reporting to CEO Tim Cook. Denève’s career is known for fashion, but this will actually be his second foray with Apple; he was a European marketing and sales manager in the 90s, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Modern memory: The phenomenon known as Google Brain isn’t as bad as it sounds – we hope. Columbia University psychologist Betsy Sparrow et al published key findings in Science (August 2011): Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips: “…when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it.” Maybe that isn’t so bad: if the world has changed and made information more readily available, why shouldn’t our brains adapt to locate it faster instead of work on remembering it? It’s all about efficiency, as Melanie will tell you.

3. Alone Together (12:39-14:00)

Digital natives (13:02-13:27) are losing the art of conversation. What’s wrong with the statement, “I’d rather text than talk”? Emily recaps psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk and book Alone Together. Turkle poses the question: what are we losing by using technology to communicate when we want, how we want, and in an abbreviated and controlled manner? “As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other?”

(13:30) Melanie reminds us that as humans, we have historically had trouble accepting changes in society, in language, and in our bodies. Here’s our Death of the English Language episode (read: Emily’s head in Downton Abbey): U-Turn Into a Tech-Speak Future – Episode 5

Two great Sherry Turkle quotes:

-The feeling that ‘no one is listening to me’ make us want to spend time with machines that seem to care about us.

-We’re lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy. And so from social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.


Fun/weird: The Intimacy 2.0 Dress: High-tech wearable: clothing responds to your heartbeat. “The ‘Intimacy 2.0’ dress, designed by Daan Roosegaarde, is getting a rise out of the fashion world because its opaque fabric becomes transparent when you get aroused.”

Tips on Tap (20:40-25:12)

  1. Tile App (20:45-22:16) – Tile, the world’s largest lost and found. The Tile App on your phone makes it easy to find anything you have placed a small plastic Tile on. Keep track of your stuff. Preorder now for $18.95. “Works with iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad Mini, iPad 3rd and 4th gen, and iPod Touch 5th gen. New iOS devices will be supported as they become available, as long as they have Bluetooth 4.0 support.”
  2. Closet+ app (22:17-23:56) – “The Swiss Army Knife of style assistants.” Catalogue your wardrobe with phone pix to plan outfits easily. Free on iTunes.
  3. (23:57-25:10) – Drink and cocktail recommendations based on the music you’re listening to.


You can download or stream The Digital Dive Podcast at or search for us in the iTunes Podcast Directory–> If you like the show, please subscribe and/or leave us a review (some stars, if you will).

The Digital Dive Podcast is on Stitcher, the best free podcast streaming app. New to Stitcher? Please sign up with our link:

Hear us on Stitcher Smart Radio

The Digital Dive PodcastTM: Get the most out of technology… without ever fully giving in

Note: The two videos at the top and bottom of this post are the same, we just wanted the Vimeo option to appear first.