Cell Phone Addiction – Ingredients of Behavioral Addiction: Progress

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It’s been a while since I last opened Irresistible.  …my apologies for the extended break.

Thus far, Alter has shared two ingredients (surprising ingredients at that) for behavioral addiction: goals and feedback. In this next chapter, he adds another shocking ingredient for behavioral addiction: progress.

As if the first two weren’t hard enough to accept, this third ingredient is even more challenging to understand as an ingredient for addiction. After all, didn’t we just have parent-teacher conferences at the school to discuss how to promote and pursue progress for our students?

Well, let’s be clear: progress is a good thing.

But too much of a good thing or a good thing in the wrong proportions/quantities can be bad. Alter uses a host of examples to help make this point: Nintendo, auction games, penny auction sites, bumper bowling, and internet addiction. As always, he paints an interesting picture and makes it clear (albeit, anecdotally) that progress can be used to addict us.

Progress is a little bit like cholesterol, carbs, or calories. Our body needs calories to survive. But too many calories and calories in the wrong form can be utilized to addict us.

Likewise, progress is a good thing and necessary for our growth and development. But progress can become addictive.

Do you know who is especially good at using (mis-using) progress to addict us?: video game creators and Smart Phone app developers. Yes, that’s right: our cell phones are cleverly designed to become addictive. (You didn’t really think I’d miss an opportunity to remind you of how dangerous cell phones are, did you? 😉 )

Don’t throw away your SmartPhone (yet). Just be aware…



Alter, Adam. (2018). Irresistible The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Penguin Group USA.