The "ludic loop" of checking email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all day

Slot machines are designed to lock you into a "ludic loop" -- doing something over and over again because every once in a while you get a reward. People check their emails and social networks repeatedly for the same reason.

Adam Alter, a professor of marketing at NYU and author of the new book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, has come up with 5 ways to break the ludic loop addiction to your phone.

From Barking up the Wrong Tree:

3) Use A “Stopping Rule”

Ever said you’re going to “just check your phone real quick” — and then an hour goes by? (No, you did not discover time travel.)

You check email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram… And by the time you’ve done all that, it’s time to check email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram again. You may call this your “happy place.” Researchers call it a “ludic loop.” It’s what slot machines are designed to produce. Here’s Adam:

The “ludic loop” is this idea that when you’re engaged in an addictive experience, like playing slot machines, you get into this lulled state of tranquility where you just keep doing the thing over and over again. It just becomes the comfortable state for you. You don’t stop until you’re shaken out of that state by something.

So something happens and you’re shaken out of your Kubla Khan dream state. That’s when you go, “It’s been an hour?!?!” So what you want to do is make sure you have that interruption planned ahead of time so you don’t go down the rabbit hole and spend 3 whole hours hanging with the rabbits.

That’s your “stopping rule.” Again, frame it with “I don’t.” Here’s Adam:

It’s a rule that says at this point it’s time for me to stop. It breaks the reverie and makes you think of something else; it gets you outside of the space you’ve been in. The best thing to do is to use a declarative statement like, “I don’t watch more than two episodes of a show in a row, that’s just not who I am.”

Your phone has email, texting, Facebook and Instagram. You know what else it has? A countdown timer. Maybe that should be the first step in your next ludic loop.

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