By Joni Siani

It’s not you, it’s your brain!

Our attachment to our digital devices has been in the news quite a bit. Broadway legend Patti Lupone received coverage for stepping off the stage to take the phone out of the hand of a theater-goer who was texting during Lupone’s performance. At another show, an audience member used his iPhone to capture the image of a man climbing onto a stage during a performance to recharge his phone only to realize the electrical outlet was a stage prop!

As a college professor on the front line during the digital revolution, I observed students becoming physically anxious when ask to put phones away for a short period of time. I began asking the question, “How do you feel about your phone?” The responses were mostly students chuckling, “I’m addicted.” But, perhaps it’s no laughing matter.

In July 2012, Newsweek reported, “The current incarnation of the Internet—portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive—may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic.”

Despite many cautionary reports, the problem is getting worse. One study shows one in eight of us are addicted to our phones and another study shows separation anxiety is a real thing.

Why is it so impossible today to put down our phones when for years we were fine without them?

We’ve been conditioned.

Our daily digital connectivity is aligned with our pleasure senses. It’s emotionally based. And, when it comes to pleasure, emotion outweighs logic every time!

Digital Conditioning works like this:

Understanding that your brain chemistry is working against you when you’re trying to opt out might help you to understand that you’re not crazy…and, to know you might need some help breaking the habit or addiction.

Media Literacy is about becoming a discerning consumer of media. It involves understanding the shaping effects of our media consumption, individually and as a society. As Millennials are consuming some 18 hour of media multitasking a day, some adapting to the behavior while others are overwhelmed at the digital demands, it’s important to critically analyze our new social norms and create a balance.

Media Literacy Now is dedicated to making media and digital literacy an important part of our basic education curriculum. Parents, students and educators should have access to information in order to make informed decisions on media use and school policies.noappAllLogo

You can be part of the solution. Elevate the conversations in your school or organization using the documentary I produced with my students, “Celling Your Soul: No app for life,” as a catalyst.

For information about hosting a workshop for educators, school awareness event, documentary film screening or lecture, email us at with the subject “school event.”

About the Author:

Joni Siani is a Media Literacy scholar, author and filmmaker of Author/Filmmaker: Celling Your Soul: No App For Life.

See more posts by Joni Siani.

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