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Digital Addiction: How the World Got Hooked


Adam Alter




It's not your screen you're addicted to — it's just the conduit for your high. NYU professor Adam Alter explains that behavioral addiction is similar to substance addiction: it feels good in the short term, but over time can negatively impact your mental state, social life, financial stability, and physiological wellbeing.


Behavioral addiction is a lot like substance addiction in a lot of ways, but it's much newer. So substance addiction obviously involves the ingestion of a substance. And in the short term that feels good. And in the long term, it harms your well being in some respects, it can be physiological, it can be psychological that can harm your social life, it can cause you to spend too much money, it can have a lot of negative effects on your life. behavioral addiction is similar.

The big difference, though, is that behavioral addiction does not involve the ingestion of a substance. And it's much newer, it's a much more recent phenomenon. So substance addiction has been around for a very long time, by some accounts for many 1000s of years. But there weren't behaviors around that were compelling enough to rise to the level of addiction until quite recently. And the reason is that, for them to be addictive, basically what has to happen is that there's a behavior that you enjoy doing in the short term, that you do compulsively, so you keep returning to it over and over again.

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