The article focuses on smartphones for some reason, but the central addictive attributes are in relation to messaging – a feature of all mobile phones.
“It turns out that reinforcing that reward intermittently creates a more powerful need than offering a reward consistently. If people hit the jackpot every time they pulled a lever, gambling would be boring. But because they don’t know when the reward is going to come, they want it that much more. Smartphones, in a way, also channel intermittent rewards.
“Think about getting pinged-alerted to a new message. You’re not sure when it happens, but when it does, it’s usually something interesting, worth a glance or maybe even an immediate response. A text is no monetary reward, but you can still train your brain to expect one-and crave it.”
Link: Addicted to bits: Smartphones are our new drug of choice (cnn.com, via)