As you drive to the office or running errands, what do you do when you phone pings? Do you ignore it, then check it as the next traffic light? Do you check it right away? How strong is the urge to see what the ping is about? Some research has been done to find out how why pings are so hard to resist.
According to David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, it comes down to how our brain instinctively responds to pings. Even if we’re not aware of it, our smartphones are affecting our brains. When we hear a ping, dopamine is released into our brain, which makes us feel energized and aroused. It’s the same type of feeling we get from sex, alcohol or eating. The reward center in our brain makes these things desirable, so the more we have them, the more we crave them.
As our reward center gets engaged, the center for reasoning and judgement shuts down. This is why pings are so hard to ignore. Your reasoning goes away as good feelings take over. Your brain makes it nearly impossible to ignore potential texts, messages and updates on your smartphone. This is why Scott Tibbitts has come up with a technology called Groove, which alerts your phone to hold all incoming messages while you’re driving. As long as your car is moving, no messages will come through.
Every time you drive and text without any negative consequences, your brain reinforces that everything is ok. This makes you feel like it’s safe to do, so you do it again. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to multitask. There is no possible way to drive and text at the same time. This is why pings are so dangerous. Their addictive nature puts you in situations where you can seriously hurt yourself and those around you.
If you find yourself reaching for your phone every time it pings, you might want to think twice before you do it while driving.