Let’s face it: Internet addiction is completely out of control.
Recent studies have revealed the obvious and made a clear link between smartphone usage and internet addiction. Essentially, it comes down to the fact that this behavior and exposure to new content (which not necessarily means relevant content) triggers our brains to produce a neurotransmitter named dopamine. As consequence, we feel pleasure from this behavior and tend to repeat it.
For me, one of the best books on the topic is the insightful “The Shallows – What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains“, by Nicholas Carr. On it, the author describes in detail how our cognition development is moderated by what we interact with and the effects of constant use of smartphones.
It is truly an exceptional read.
And how does smartphone use influence the consumption of experiences?
The production and delivery of experiences for consumers requires two important factors: novelty perception and consumer engagement.
- Novelty perception: Novelty is an extremely relevant factor for the development of a long-lasting experience. Unexpected events create sincere and immediate reactions that are long remembered. For example, the moment an artist made a joke on stage, the end of a film, a view from a destination. On the second time it can also be pleasurable, but will it be as memorable? Probably not. And in some contexts, such as comedy, novelty is even more important as you would probably not laugh at a joke for the second or third time.
- Consumer engagement: Inseparability is a fundamental characteristic of services, as production and consumption of services and experiences happen at the same time. Thus, services and experiences usually cannot be created and delivered without the engagement of consumers. Can a surgeon operate if the patient is not there? Can a musical perform a concert if there is no crowd? Moreover, the level of engagement is crucial for the quality of the experience.
And the main problem is that smartphones have the power of negatively affecting both of these factors.
How do Smartphones Negatively Affect Experience Consumption?
Highly influence emotionally by the delivery of experiences, consumers rush to “register” unique moments in order to attempt to re-live them. Moreover, we rush to share it with others and
How do we do this? Filming and taking photos.
But imagine you are a comedian. “Novelty” is a key factor for the success of the experience you deliver. Jokes only work if they have not been heard before. The same applies for many other forms of art.
Essentially, when consumers film and share experience content, such as comedy acts, they are devaluing the experience that will later be delivered to others.
Finally, when a concert is happening or a play, the level of “consumer engagement” is crucial for the overall experience that is being created. The overuse of smartphones creates a constant interruption behavior that disconnects consumers with the moment.
Essentially, every time a consumer picks up his/her phone they are disconnecting with the experience and reducing their level of engagement. Consequently, a less memorable experience is created.
Here is Jack White (The White Stripes) discussing this fact:
Solution to the Problem: Yondr
Yondr is a company founded in 2014 in California that aims at solving this problem by crating phone-free spaces.
How? Their product is essentially a case for smartphones. When entering a specific environment, consumers must lock their phones inside the cases and may take them. However, despite carrying the case, consumers cannot open it. Thus, they can only use their phones again when unlocking the case at the exit of venues.
In order words, Yondr is locking smartphones and forcing consumers to connect with whichever experience they are involved in: Comedy, education, music and events, for example.
And can you purchase it for your organization and how much does it cost?
Having been a lecturer for many years and also someone who attends music concerts on a regular basis, I can only affirm that this is a brilliant solution.
We need more companies such as Yondr.
There is simply no indication that consumers will reduce or change their smartphone behaviors. There is hardly no governmental regulation against its use (with the exemptions of planes and driving) and as any other addictive behavior, it will only tend to increase.
I honestly hope governments will make mandatory its use in educational institutions or in any other contexts where high engagement and concentration levels are required.
It will be extremely beneficial for everyone involved.