Breaking Digital Addiction

The first step is admitting.

Digital addiction is quickly becoming a public health crisis. Space is the newest product to help you break it.

The average person pulls their phone out 85 times a day. I am an addict, and judging by the number of faces stuffed in phones, there’s a good chance you are too. You likely can relate to the all-too-common feeling of guilt after 20 minutes have disappeared while your family, friends, or inbox are ignored. Giving a smartphone to a kid is like handing them their first pack of cigarettes. Go to a restaurant and look at the kid with the iPad; The addiction starts young.

As we have learned to deal with other forms of addiction, we will need to address Digital Addiction and its cost.

Everyone has moments of boredom, anxiety, and loneliness. Apps crave to join you in those moments — to be your go-to comfort blanket — and quickly whisk you away to a panda video. It’s not a matter of guesswork — increasingly, it’s a science. Teams of neuroscientists and product engineers are building their services, laced with dopamine, to keep you hooked.

So what do we do? Give it up all together? Take a social media sabbatical? Quit Facebook? Delete the game?

These products are woven into your everyday life. They keep you connected, and often serve a valuable purpose. Cold turkey is just not a reality, and often not the best way to break an addiction cycle. We all have friends who have claimed to quit Facebook or take a break from Twitter, but for most of us, that’s more heavy-handed than necessary, and more extreme than practical. We need real solutions that don’t force your hand, which is why I’m excited to be backing the team at Dopamine, with their newest product, Space.

Built by a team of neuroscience PhDs and incredible hackers, Space is an attempt to break the dopamine loop.

How does it work?

1 ) By creating new icons for the apps you want more control over. These are the Space versions of the same apps, that launch in a new way.

2) By building on the team’s years of research into addiction to delay gratification at just the right moment and break the dopamine loop. This ‘adaptive stimulus devaluation,’ as the scientists call it, is what hacks the brain’s reward circuits. Even slowing down the feedback-loop by a few seconds is enough to subconsciously unhook us from otherwise addictive apps.

I’ve been using Space for a week, and here’s what’s blown me away:

  • That quick reprieve while I’m breathing before the app loads allows me to ask, “do i really need to open this right now?” More than a few times, the answer has been no, and Space gives me the moment to get back to what’s really important.
  • I don’t have to give up the tools that I love and that are essential to my job. Instead, I get to regain control over them.
  • I don’t feel bad about using Space. There’s no punishment, no shock collar, no scorecard. The product doesn’t shame me for checking in, it just helps me form better habits.

My hope is that Space is just one of many new products designed to help us deal with this epidemic. We all know the business case for keeping us addicted. I believe there is also a business case for helping us regain control.

Space is free for the first app, and $0.99/month for unlimited apps.
How much would you pay to have those 20 minutes with your friends back?

Get Space