\u00a0A recent study found that on average we check our phones 85 times a day, and most of us don\u2019t even realise we\u2019re doing it. Researchers at Nottingham Trent University asked participants aged between 18 and 33 to estimate how often they checked their devices, then compared it with the data gathered through a monitoring app installed on the phones. The results, published in in the journal PLOS ONE, show that most people checked twice as often as they thought.\n\n\nThe addictiveness of digital technology has long been an issue of concern for many people, yet it is that very addictive nature that makes it such a powerful tool for education. The reinforcement and habit-forming mechanisms which make you repeatedly check your apps \u2013 the property called \u201cstickiness\u201d by online marketers \u2013 can also be harnessed to help us learn and retain information, as well as to train our brain in all sorts of ways.\n\n\nIncreasingly we see a blurring of the lines between work and play, as educators recognize the power of gamification in learning. Since children are starting to habitually use technology at an ever-earlier age, parents and teachers need to find creative ways of incorporating technology into their education.\n\n\nPlay My Way, a recently launched company supported by the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, uses a carrot-plus-stick approach to tackle the issue of children spending \u201ctoo much time\u201d on their devices by allowing parents to specify how often the app will interrupt their children\u2019s use of the device, locking it until they answer an educational question in a subject such as Languages, Arts, Math or Science.\n\n\nCompanies like Lumosity also rely on this blending of work, play and reward, exploring the intersection of science and design to create gamified cognitive exercises that \u2013 if played daily \u2013 work to develop different areas of your brain. The principles behind what they do are nothing new in themselves - scientists and researchers have used tasks to measure cognitive abilities for many decades \u2013 yet the way they offer these as bite-size casual games is highly effective. So much so that they now boast over 70 million users in over 182 countries.\n\n\nOn a similar vein, apps such as Calm and Headspace use daily tasks, delivered through digital technology, to help users learn and practice mindfulness techniques and manage their stress levels. In fact, Headspace claims that as you continue to meditate, your brain actually reshapes itself, bringing long-term health benefits to its users \u2013 thus presumably justifying the subscription fees.\n\n\nThese concepts are also being explored in immersive Virtual Reality technology, with some interesting early results. LUMEN is one such experience, a collaboration between Framestore\u2019s award-winning VR studio and Walter Greenleaf, a dresearcher from Stanford University Virtual Human Interaction Lab.\n\n\nDescribing itself as a \u201cself-guided, nonlinear meditation experience rooted at the intersection of virtual reality and wellness. The experience uses eye-tracking to allow the viewer\u2019s gaze to works as a cursor and simulate tree growth in an interactive bioluminescent forest. Here again we see researchers working hand-in-hand with software developers, bringing a scientific approach to design.\n\n\n\u201cWe wanted to reward the user for allowing their focus to put them into a meditative state,\u201d says Framestore\u2019s Executive Creative Director Aron Hjartarson. \u201cWherever you put your attention something positive happens to the world around you. The cyclical aspect of existence is in there, from birth to regeneration.\u201d\n\n\nThere are even companies integrating these self-help meditation techniques and exercises into a more traditional therapeutic framework. Sympaticus, for example, is another Lebanese start-up offering a subscription-based, 6-step therapy program targeted specifically to women and supported by qualified female therapists. These personalized programs help users define their goals and then leverage technology to track and monitor progress, as well as teaching and reinforcing coping techniques.\n\n\nWhat all these technologies have in common is that they turn tasks into pleasurable games, blending work, study, and leisure in a seamless way. In order to be successful, however, it is crucial for scientists, researchers, educators and designers to work hand-in-hand to fuse these elements together from the very start. In other words, It\u2019s not about sugar-coating the medicine, but using creative design to come up with a deliciously healthy sweet that we want to eat.