Interview 1194 – Larry Rosen Gives Practical Advice on Controlling Your Smartphone

by | Jul 20, 2016 | Interviews | 11 comments

Do you use your smartphone and other tech devices intelligently, responsibly and sparingly? Then congratulations, this interview isn’t for you! But if you (or someone you know) find yourself distracted by your fondleslab and feel anxious when you’re not able to check your latest notifications, then it’s time to admit that the technology is starting to control you. Today we talk to research psychologist Dr. Larry Rosen about how our technology is turning us into Pavlov’s dog and how we can regain control over our devices and our lives.


Dr. Larry Rosen’s homepage

Are We All Becoming Pavlov’s Dogs?

Asch conformity experiment

Skinner boxes and video games

The CIA’s ‘Pokémon Go’ App is Doing What the Patriot Act Can’t


  1. I have been through data addiction and do still suffer but to a lesser extent. I have weened myself off checking my phone in another way however. I got a data plan with 100MB of data a month which gets used up pretty quickly. This forced me to turn data off. But there is enough there in case I have to look something up when out and about.

    I also turned off all but basic notifications (email, calendar, text) and cancelled my facebook and twitter account (the only twitter account I have now is anonymous).

    This also enabled me to turn off wifi and put it in flight mode so when I walk around I’m hopefully not getting tracked and not frying my reproductive organs. I did try using a dumb phone for about 3 months, but they are so bad for usability I couldn’t bare it.

    Over time I have become less of a pavlov dog and friends and family now know I don’t reply immediately. Facebook users email me separately, or just wait until they see me in person.

    My conclusion is that almost all of this new information is frivolous. I haven’t been “missing out”. Constantly checking computers when you’re out and about is not what life is about.

    But thank you for the video. It reminded me to purge useless twitter follows and delete the browser bookmarks I never visit. All just cognitive noise that builds up and needs to be expelled.

  2. I am a self-employed IT professional and my mobile rings and beeps got me very distracted. Especially through customers whom felt they had an emergency and therefore needed to get hold of me RIGHT NOW. If I would choose not to pick up my mobile they either would ring again, again and again or leave a voice message and just in case a Skype and/or text massage. Checking all these different platforms for massages would eat too much time. Taking a call while working at a customer’s site was not a smart move either because people felt you can make some time to listen to their computer/network problem and hint for some solutions since you decided to pick-up your phone…

    Four years ago I decided to shut-off my phone completely for a trial period of three months. I kept the mobile at an inconvenient place to reach to overcome possible temptations. I informed my customers about this experiment and the reasons why. From that moment on customers (and family/friends) could get hold of me by using either my landline (with a receptionist service) or by email.

    Long story short; I sold my smartphone and have been without a mobile phone since. I have not lost any of my customers because of it. Finding my way in a new town or a not familiar neighborhood goes the old fashion way by asking people in the streets for directions. Having face-to-face conversations and meeting interesting people because of it.

  3. I have never purchased a smart-phone for myself (bought one for my son though), but I don’t think I ever will. Just thought I’d share that 🙂

  4. Ahhhh man! I’m halfway through all of the podcasts. Does that mean I have to stop listening to the Corbett Report??!?

    (Putting phone down)

  5. Good interview. Appreciated the perspectives.
    When I do upgrade to a smartphone, I will keep this interview in mind.

      • Nope.
        If you test it let us know.

        Right now, for me personally, I rarely use the phone. I don’t put much attention on it, and thus I have it at the bottom portion of my “to do list” which is very long and full of projects…some projects which should had been completed over a year ago to avoid government problems.

        By the way, just so you know…
        I do not have “notifications” turned on when people reply to my comments.
        I just happened to catch your reply on a recent revisit to Corbett Report.

        • @HRS

          Ok thanks for the reply. Will do.

          I have a similar priority list. The phone is more for work (jotting down measurements for designs, customer plant species requests and staying in touch with loved ones for emergencies) so even though my current one is delapitated, busted up, glitching (and likely being fully surveilled/data mined etc) I have other things I am more interested on focusing on right now.

          I appreciate the heads up about notifications as I had commented to you on a few other threads and wondered why I never heard back. I suppose with your prominent and prolific presence in these comment threads if you were to turn on notifications for all replies you would get stormed with an insurmountable mountain of emails, so I completely understand 🙂

  6. I had a surprise just a few minutes ago. I have an iPhone 6. I have a few ipads as well as computers. Have had multiple computers over the years. All my devices have auto updates turned off. No exceptions. Some software developers can’t crank out the updates instantly just because Apple feels the need. I double checked my phone when they came out with the new update to support contact tracing. Auto updates still off. Just now I walked in the house and looked at my phone. Lo and behold, there is a message that it is going to auto update later tonight. Trust me, I didn’t forget or get confused. Has to be something Apple is trying to do via backdoor. I have no intention of updating. Ever. I have backups in case they try it again.

  7. Have you heard about this phone?

    The tag line on the website is “Reject corporate tracking and ads while staying anonymous and communicating privately.”

    I would appreciate a review by someone that is more tech savvy than I as I am looking to either get a dumb phone (or perhaps something like this product if it is legit).

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