How to Make Studying as Addictive as Social Media


We all have those days when motivation seems nonexistent, and studying feels like an insurmountable chore.

On such days, the lure of lying in bed and scrolling through social media is irresistible.

Social media integrates so effortlessly into our lives that we don’t even need motivation to use it.

But what if learning could be just as engaging and easy?

I’ve spent countless hours studying, yet motivating myself to hit the books was often a struggle.

This led me to explore how social media captivates us and how we could apply similar techniques to make learning enjoyable.

That’s when I stumbled upon Duolingo, an app that makes language learning as addictive as social media.

The Secret Behind Duolingo’s Success

Duolingo’s CEO, Luis von Ahn, revealed that the app employs psychological techniques akin to those used by social media platforms to keep users engaged.

For instance, Duolingo uses streaks to encourage daily practice and sends notifications at optimal times to prompt study sessions.

This approach piqued my curiosity about the specific strategies social media uses to hook us.

Understanding the Persuasive Model

These strategies are grounded in the persuasive model developed by Stanford professor BJ Fogg. The model suggests that behavior is driven by three factors: motivation, ability, and triggers, encapsulated in the equation B = MAT.

This means if a task is easy, you don’t need much motivation to do it, like getting a glass of water. Conversely, harder tasks, like going to the gym, require significant motivation and often a pep talk.

Social media platforms excel at using triggers, such as notifications about new messages or tags in posts, making it effortless to dive into the app and receive an immediate dopamine hit.

This seamless path from trigger to reward fosters a habit or even an addiction.

Applying These Techniques to Studying

So, how can we leverage these techniques for studying, especially on low-motivation days? The key lies in starting with the smallest, easiest tasks. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Start Small: When feeling unmotivated, commit to just five minutes of reading a textbook or solving one problem. Often, once you begin, you find it easier to continue.
  2. Use Triggers: Identify what triggers can prompt you to study. This could be an alarm, a specific time of day, or a dedicated study space.
  3. Create a Dedicated Study Spot: Having a specific place where you always study can signal your brain that it’s time to focus. This helps build a habit over time.
  4. Combine Habits: Pair studying with another routine activity. For example, read a book while having a snack. Eventually, the snack can trigger your study habit.
  5. Gamify Your Learning: Reward yourself with badges, track your progress, and celebrate small victories. This can make studying more engaging and less of a chore.

Tips for Effective Study Habits

  1. Optimal Study Times: Identify when you’re most alert and focused, and set reminders to study during these times.
  2. Consistency is Key: Regular, shorter study sessions are often more effective than occasional, long sessions. Aim for consistency to build a strong habit.
  3. Breaks and Rewards: Incorporate breaks and reward yourself for completing study sessions. This keeps you motivated and prevents burnout.


Transforming studying into an engaging and addictive activity, like social media, is entirely possible.

By starting small, using triggers, creating dedicated study spaces, and gamifying the process, you can develop effective study habits.

Remember, the hardest part is often just getting started. Once you make some progress, the motivation to continue will naturally follow.

So, next time you feel unmotivated, try these tips and watch how studying becomes a more enjoyable part of your daily routine.