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Stop seeking meaning and purpose via smartphones: Researchers

27/09/2022 at 1:15 PM

New York, Sep 27: Those seeking satisfaction and meaning from their smartphones, it is time to shun this thinking. Researchers have found that those looking for meaning and purpose through their devices and social media could actually experience the opposite.

Researchers at Baylor and Campbell universities in the US found that smartphone attachment could “cause a breakdown in social values because of the unstructured and limitless options they provide for seeking meaning and purpose and inadvertently exacerbate feelings of despair while simultaneously promising to resolve them,”

“Seeking itself becomes the only meaningful activity, which is the basis of anomie and addiction,” said Christopher M. Pieper, senior lecturer of sociology at Baylor University.

The results, published in the journal Sociological Perspectives, provide a sociological link to the psychological studies that point to connections between digital devices and media use with feelings of loneliness, depression, unhappiness, suicidal ideation and other poor mental health outcomes.

Lead author Justin J. Nelson, assistant professor of sociology at Campbell University and Pieper also found a connection between this search for meaning and feelings of attachment to one’s smartphone – a possible precursor to tech addiction.

“Our research finds that meaning-seeking is associated with increased smartphone attachment — a feeling that you would panic if your phone stopped working,” Nelson said. “Social media use is also correlated with increased feelings of attachment.”

The research found that individuals seeking solace or connection through their phones in shorter spurts might exacerbate attachment.

“What we have uncovered is a social mechanism that draws us into smartphone use, and that might keep us hooked, exacerbating feelings of attachment and anomie, and even disconnection, while they promise the opposite,” Pieper said.


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