When bored, sad or unhappy, many tend to gravitate toward a mobile device. A quick text or snapchat to a friend has been shown to improve ones mood immediately. Such tendencies have resulted in unexpected implications, such as individuals developing addictive habits when it comes to the use of mobile devices. Receiving a text or Instagram like is thought to release dopamine and other feel-good hormones into the brain, leaving many dependent on their mobile devices for happiness.
iSlith is a toy which aims to demonstrate this idea in a way young children will understand. I am making a snake which, when slithered, dispenses a piece of candy to young children . Presumably, this device will introduce ideas of the danger and appeal of immediate gratification when it comes to the use of smartphones. Candy is used to represent this concept because it is universally enjoyed by children although they are constantly preached about its unhealthiness from older individuals. Through conversation children could think critically about the appeal and challenges of a toy which gives a reward for a simple interaction. Meanwhile, parents could explore how their children react individually to a device which simulates a situation which will exist in their near future. Being the most primal members of the human race, children's reactions could provide much information on how instant gratification can affect reward circuits in the brains of children opposed to adults. In result, a conclusion could be drawn as to whether or not cell phone addiction is a result of nature or nurture.
iSlith was created using a flex sensor, taped to one of the joints and a servo which rotates when prompted to release the candy. The candy is in a slanted tube which allows an easy release, while a programmed Arduino controls the sensor and servo. The body of the snake was crafted with a laser cutter with each peice loosely screwed together, allowing flexibility and movement throughout.