Beyond the rhetoric of tech addiction: why we should be discussing tech habits instead

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 20 (3):559-572 (2020)
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Abstract

In the past few years, we have become increasingly focused on technology use that is impulsive, unthinking, and distractive. There has been a strong push to understand such technology use in terms of dopamine addiction. The present article demonstrates the limitations of this so-called neurobehaviorist approach: Not only is it inconsistent in regard to how it understands humans, technologies, and their mutual relationship, it also pathologizes everyday human behaviors. The article proceeds to discuss dual-systems theory, which helpfully discusses impulsive technology use in terms of habit instead of addiction, but can be criticized for its mentalist celebration of conscious control. Finally, the article introduces a phenomenological approach whose conceptualization of habit manifests many of the experiential qualities that we try to capture with addiction, but remains non-pathologizing and opens a space for learning: While tech addiction is bad and must be eliminated, good tech habits can be trained and cultivated.

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References found in this work

Thinking, Fast and Slow.Daniel Kahneman - 2011 - New York: New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Phenomenology of Perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1962 - Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: The Humanities Press.
Phenomenology of Perception.Aron Gurwitsch, M. Merleau-Ponty & Colin Smith - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (3):417.

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