The study says addiction to social media technology may have a negative effect on social connection.
Conducted by Erik Peper, a professor at San Francisco State University, and Richard Harvey, associate professor of health education, the study says smartphones addiction is similar to any other type of substance abuse.
In a survey of 135 San Francisco State students, the researchers found that students who used their phones the most reported higher levels of feeling isolated, lonely, depressed and anxious.
The loneliness, the researchers say, is partly caused by replacing face-to-face interaction with communication through technology.
“The behavioral addiction of smartphone use begins forming neurological connections in the brain in ways similar to how opioid addiction is experienced by people taking Oxycontin for pain relief — gradually,” Peper said.
The researchers said digital addiction is as a result of the tech industry’s desire to increase corporate profits.
“We are hijacked by those same mechanisms that once protected us and allowed us to survive — for the most trivial pieces of information,” Peper added.
To fight smartphones addiction, Peper suggests turning off push notifications, only responding to email and social media at specific times and scheduling periods with no interruptions.