Research Finds That People Are Willing To Reduce Digital Device Usage : Planet Money : The Indicator from Planet Money American adults on average spent more than four hours on their phones in 2020. Can we reduce our phone usage if we want to? Some recent research says yes.

An Economist's Advice On Digital Dependency

An Economist’s Advice On Digital Dependency

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MARVIN RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images
(Photo by MARVIN RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images)
MARVIN RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images

American adults spend more than four hours on their mobile phones on average. A lot of that can be for work, convenience, and human connection. But... we all know the guilty feeling when we realize we've accidentally spent hours mindlessly watching YouTube videos or scrolling through social media.

Researchers Hunt Alcott, Matthew Gentzkow and Lena Song wrote a working paper titled Digital Addiction. They conducted a behavioral economics study on digital device usage. By giving people monetary incentives to cut their usage and providing blocking apps, their study participants did substantially reduce their phone usage. Their data suggests that around 31 percent of the people's social media usage is because of problems with self-control.

But there's hope! Lena told us that by using commitment devices like blocking apps, we can overcome that compulsion to constantly check our phones.

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