Kiwis' smart phone habits spiralling


Do you text through dinner, check social media in bed and interact more with your phone than your friends and whanau?

The latest data shows our mobile phone habit is spiralling – so are we becoming addicted?

Four years ago, New Zealand had 1.9 million mobile phones connected to the internet - now there are 3.9 million.

In that time the amount of mobile data we use has increased by 1000 percent - it's become a habit.

"Every time you process one little thing, your brain gets this little squirt of dopamine and makes you feel like, "yeah I got something done", and that instant gratification," says Dr Paul Ralph, from the University of Auckland.

"[It's] very powerful, it's the same principle that's used in gambling, slot machines,"

Studies show we unlock our phones on average 150 times a day, that's once every six or seven waking minutes.

So are we becoming addicted?

Spark says the data increase reflects not only how much we're using our phones, but how we're using them.

"We've become an image and a video society, and of course video and photos take up a lot more data than sending an email or a text message," says Spark chief operating officer David Havecroft.

And big events cause major spikes in data consumption - the Rugby World Cup final saw a 700-percent surge not just at half time, but throughout the match.

But when it comes to coffee, it can be annoying.

"Maybe mobile phones for some people fit as addictions, or maybe they don't, but what we can clearly say is that many people obsessively check their phones," says Dr Ralph.

So should we be concerned?

"Basically, if it's messing with your life you need to do something about it, and if it's not messing with your life, don't worry about it," says Dr Ralph.

Addiction or compulsion - for many of us, checking our phone can be a hard habit to break.

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