Smartphones are a Dangerous Source of Human Ego Depletion

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Smartphones are a Dangerous Source of Human Ego Depletion
Anneke Zwart, Student (University), Netherlands

Smartphones have become an important tool that provides people with access to communication networks and online information at any time of the day. The advantages of having a smartphone are clear. At work, it facilitates communication with customers, coworkers, and one's supervisor and employees; it can also provide access to company files. However, there is an important disadvantage of using smartphones that might even offset the advantages. Because smartphones are used everywhere all the time, they hinder the full recovery from (working) activities that occurred during the day. For example, when you put your smart phone next to your bed, the interference with one’s sleep is just one way in which smartphone hinder replenishment of depleted resources.

This smartphone problem becomes more and more prevalent, and is an example of what is called “EGO DEPLETION”. Although depletion is often used to describe the ‘using up’ of natural resources, ego depletion is used to describe the ‘using’ up of resources and functions of human beings.
An important assumption in ego depletion theory is that the capability to control oneself (self-control) depends on a small range of resources of “the self”, that are vulnerable to depletion. This range includes functions such as:
- Self-regulation
- Making the right choices, and
- Being active.

Ego depletion refers to a state in which the amount of these resources of the self has decreased when compared to the normal state. At the time that these resources or functions have decreased or even have been used up altogether, employees are thus less able to override impulses and block non-task distractions. They will become more vulnerable to unethical activities and deviant.
Ego depletion makes the self temporarily less capable and less willing to function normally or efficiently. There are health limits to using your smartphone...
Lanaj, K, Johnson, R.E. And C.M. Barnes (2014) “Beginning the workday yet already depleted? Consequences of late-night smartphone use and sleep” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes Vol. 124 Iss.1 pp. 11-23
Baumeister, R.F. And K. D. Vohs (2007) Self-Regulation, Ego Depletion, and Motivation “Social and Personality Psychology Compass



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