Digital Wellbeing @ St Andrew's - Are you in a ludic loop?

A ludic loop is the process of doing something over and over again because you get a small reward. This process is hardwired into the online world in games, emails, operating systems and social media such as Facebook and Instagram.

Yes, Houston, we have a problem… As Thoreau once said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

Adam Alter, the author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked, gives us the following facts, which should scare us, but doesn’t deter us:

  • 70% of office emails are read within six seconds of arriving.
  • People average 3 hours per day on their phones – in the pre-smartphone era, this was 18 minutes.
  • In a study, young adults were asked to decide: if you had to break a bone or break your phone, what would you prefer? 46% preferred the broken bone.
  • Children don’t learn empathy and emotional intelligence from screens and now spend 20% less time playing face to face.
  • Steve Jobs changed the world with the iPad. He didn’t let his children use one.


What can we and our children do to get out of the ludic loop?

  • Make a declaration – “I don’t check my phone my than once an hour.” Stick to it.
  • Put your phone somewhere that you can’t easily reach – across the room, on top of the cupboard that you need a chair to get to.
  • Turn of all non-essential notifications (Snapchat is not essential. Instagram is not essential. Facebook is not essential.
  • Turn off all audio alerts that are non-essential. (Repeat above phrase….)
  • Set a countdown timer for your ‘allowance’ for checking your phone – avoid wormholes.
  • Delete apps that you are addicted to – if you must download them, you are far less likely to use them.
  • NEVER, NEVER, NEVER bring your phone to the dinner/restaurant/lunch table – it’s full enough already.


Consider downloading an app that checks how many times you use your phone – scare yourself, share this app with your children – let them see how addicted they are (and maybe you are….)  – then look at how to get out of the ludic loop and achieve positive digital well-being.

Apps to help you reduce screen time: Checky, Forest – Stay focused, Off Time, Clear Lock, Moment

Jenny Grant