"Happiness" and "Pleasure" may have subtle language differences but huge chemical
differences. Our brain has two different parts: serotonin deal with happiness, and dopamine
deals with pleasure.


  • is associated with short-term rewards and motivation from activities such as phone activities
  • makes the brain feel good and wants more and is easy to leads to addiction


  • is associated with long-term contentment from activities such as non-phone activities
  • makes the brain feel good and that is enough

"The large amount of time adolescents spend interacting with electronic devices have direct links to unhappiness and/or have displaced time once spent on more beneficial activities, leading to declines in happiness."

- World Happiness Report

Source: https://worldhappiness.report/ed/2019/the-sad-state-of-happiness-in-the-united-states-and-the-role-of-digital-media/

A quick overview of my last week’s phone activities based on my phone screen time report. I found that I spent 6 hours, one-fourth of a day on entertainment on average, and for entertainment, it includes YouTube and Netflix.

I am not the only one spending a lot of time a day on the phone.

73% of America’s 18- to 29-year-olds have to check on their phones at least several times an hour and of those, 22% have to check on their phones every few minutes.

This line chart shows U.S. students' general happiness with their phones on a scale of 1-3.

Since iPhone was released in 2007

We can see that the happiness scale slides down to the bottom.

Up until 2015, the happiness scale has not been back to the level ten years ago.

This line chart shows the standardized scores of phone usage hours and general happiness.

The more time we spend on our phones

The less happy we will be


Photo by Brad Starkey on Unsplash


Photo by Brad Starkey on Unsplash

Because of serotonin and dopamine, spending time on non-phone activities can bring more happiness than phone activities can.

There is a negative correlation between phone activities and happiness.

And a positive correlation between non-phone activities and happiness.

Spending time on non-phone activities including sports, in-personal social interaction and volunteer work!

Spending time on non-phone activities instead of phone activities!


1. Admin. “Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A Battle for Your Time.” Science in the News, 4 Feb. 2021, https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/dopamine-smartphones-battle-time/.
2. Brueck, Hilary. “This Is Why Our Phones Are Making Us Miserable: Happiness Isn't the Same Thing as Pleasure, and Our Brain Knows It.” Business Insider, Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/why-our-phones-are-making-us-miserable-pleasure-isnt-happiness-2018-3.
3. Richter, Felix. “Infographic: America's Growing Smartphone Addiction.” Statista Infographics, 23 July 2015, https://www.statista.com/chart/3666/frequency-of-smartphone-usage/.
4. Yes, Smartphones Are Destroying a Generation, but Not of Kids. https://daily.jstor.org/yes-smartphones-are-destroying-a-generation-but-not-of-kids/.
5. “Constant Craving: How Digital Media Turned Us All into Dopamine Addicts.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 22 Aug. 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/global/2021/aug/22/how-digital-media-turned-us-all-into-dopamine-addicts-and-what-we-can-do-to-break-the-cycle.
6. “The Sad State of Happiness in the United States and the Role of Digital Media.” The Sad State of Happiness in the United States and the Role of Digital Media The World Happiness Report, https://worldhappiness.report/ed/2019/the-sad-state-of-happiness-in-the-united-states-and-the-role-of-digital-media/.