Technology addiction is already one of the greatest epidemics worldwide.
Researchers estimate that around 420 million people are addicted to the internet worldwide.4 This makes for almost 10% of the population, and the figure is predicted to continue growing.
Digital addiction has a devastating impact in our brains. Reduced attention spans and focus, increased stress and anxiety, constant feeling of boredom, chronic procrastination and desensitization are only a few of a big list of consequences.
How does this addiction work?
Nir Eyal does a very good job at explaining why we are addicted to the internet in his book "Hooked"5, where he outlines the behavioral design and consumer psychology principles behind our digital addiction. The trick apps exploit and use to get us hooked is, precisely, to create hooks inside our brains that can be triggered at any moment. Discover how.
It always starts with something simple and external to the user. This is used to engage the consumer for the first time. For example: a notification, an email or an ad. It may state something like "Feeling bored? Try this app!".
The goal of the trigger is to get the user to take some sort of action. It has to be as simple and delightful as possible. Continuing with the example, a user might see that notification and take the action of opening the app to stop being bored.
After taking that action, the user now receives a reward. The trick here is that the reward should be variable: sometimes they will see funny cat videos, sometimes they will see boring ones. It very much resembles gambling.
The fourth and last stage is investment. After receiving the reward, the user is asked for a small investment, like "Follow these people for funnier videos!". Once they have done this personal contribution, the user is hooked. They will look forward to seeing if their investment has yielded good results, and will continue to go to the app and going through the loop over and over again.
From engagement to addiction
Once the user is engaged with the app, the trigger is now "loaded". This means any internal emotions like feeling lonely or bored can trigger the action "open the app", which will reward the user and later ask for some sort of investment (leaving a comment or liking a post) to reload the trigger, and the loop will continue over and over again without the need of external notifications.
Becoming dopamine zombies
Dopamine is what makes us feel motivated to do things. It is also the driver behind all rewards, including digital rewards. The problem with getting hooked in the described loop is that we teach our brains that the dopamine it gets after seeing cat videos is exactly the same it would get after working out or doing purposeful work. So instead of doing hard work to get it, it starts learning to default to the easy choice of cat videos to get its next dopamine hit.
Momoise actively acts on breaking the hook
The reason Momoise works is simple: it just breaks the loop. It prevents you from getting your unhealthy reward, which stops your brain from linking social media to getting dopamine.
It will take a while, but after some time it will learn to stop the habit of going to social media to get a dopamine hit, and you will naturally start to default to more "traditional" activities to get that needed release of dopamine, like exercising or feeling productive.