Drug, gambling, and gaming addictions are overwhelming enough already. Let alone we now add technology addiction to the list as well.
Technology addiction is a term gaining heat quite abruptly as of late. In a research published by ACM in 2015, it declared a strong correlation between video games and technology addiction. Since video games are addictive in a manner very similar to social media, the internet, adult content, and betting, we can also deduce that these fall under the same umbrella of tech addiction.
The term Technology Addiction covers a rather broad spectrum. And it is perhaps that reason why a definite analysis cannot be made as to whether it is an addiction. But to clarify concerning what tech addiction is, let’s head over to the first part of this article.
What is Technology Addiction?
Whether you’re stuck to a music streaming app or are struggling to spend a day without the AC, it can be narrowed down to addiction. Namely, Tech. However, not all use of Technology can be labeled as addiction. The presence of compulsive behavior is necessary for an action to be classified as addictive.
Tech addiction is a tricky concept to settle in. You cannot “Cold Turkey” it the old way! And how could you? You’re dependent on it for a good part of your day. You need to use the bus to work, temp control systems at your office, and security systems at your house.
But when Technology starts to inculcate negative behavior in your personality, it is then an inclination towards an addiction. Negative changes in when it affects your relationships, work-life, self-esteem, or productivity in general.
Besides compulsive activity negative changes in your life, there is another aspect to any addiction: psychological. Avoidant behavior, pleasure or rewards activation, and dopamine surge strengthens an addiction.
The Psychology Behind Technology Addiction
A dopamine surge and an instant escape from a problem make the core of addiction in our neural systems. They create new neural pathways that are more rewarding to come back to. Hence, they form up an addictive behavior.
Tech addiction checks all three of these. But, again, let’s look at social media as an example. The dependence on likes and comments for social validation. The immediate responses to notifications because of the fear of missing out. And self-esteem shattering due to the unrealistic beauty standards set, all vouch for it to be an addiction.
On the other hand, getting likes and quick responses set out a splurge of dopamine in your brain. On some occasions, experts have argued for tech addiction to be much severe than we look at it. Compared to drug addictions, Tech, the internet, and social media addictions rush more dopamine into your brains.
Since it can’t be controlled like the intake of a drug, it hits stronger. Of course, you don’t know when it will happen. Or, even if you’ll get a good response on your new post. But when you do, dopamine lights up your brain like a Christmas tree.
Besides, addiction requires to be treated as a medical issue and not in a criminal way. Whether it is drug addiction or any other addiction, accurate diagnosis, and effective treatment is the only way to cure the problem. Talking about diagnosis, let’s head over to the signs and symptoms of technology addiction.
Signs & Symptoms
Tech addiction is behavioral and not physical. So, it can’t be measured with the like of blood pressure apps and blood intoxication tests. And neither are the physical signs as visible as they are for drug addictions. Like body aches, shivering, pupil dilations, etc.
However, the intensity of this addiction can be measured as the sum of a person’s behavior. How dependent a person is on Tech? how long he can spend without it? And how he can practice moderation are all that tell us about technology addiction.
Here are some telltale signs and symptoms for tech addiction:
- Light to intense mood swings is often the first signs to note for an addiction. For example, being overly nosy or irritated when away from the Tech in your life.
- Excessive focus on the particulars of Technology rather than how you can benefit from it. Trying to fill up as much of your daily life with Tech as possible.
- Unable to control impulses or the times you spend using Technology. Inability to resist temptations of using Tech when you’re not already using it.
- Always need more and new devices to quench your tech thirst. So continuously on the lookout for the latest technology inventions and equipping yourself with them.
- Showing withdrawal symptoms like extreme mood swings and need for fulfillment when away from using tech gadgets.
- Continued over-usage of Tech even after discovering how it affects your life, relationships, work, and productivity.
- Neglecting your social ques. Not showing up at batch gatherings, family dinners, or school parties. Instead, spending time on social media, the internet, or any other tech invention.
- Neglecting health, over/under-eating, over/undersleeping, and picking up other unhealthy habits.
Treatment & Recovery
The treatment for technology addiction differs for most of the other addictions that we know. Unfortunately, you cannot have a “disconnect” phase where you cut off all ties to the addictive behavior. However, through introducing checks and limiting your exposure to Technology, there is always hope ahead.
Here is a technique for fighting tech addiction based on three steps:
1. Pointing Out the Problem
The very first step towards recovery is to realize there is a problem in the first place. Suppose you can’t exactly point out which of your tech-associated behaviors are causing the problem. In that case, you can always ask a friend or family member to help you out. However, whether it is the excessive time spent on social media, in front of a screen, or even video games. If it is causing unnecessary changes in your behavior, it needs to be noted down.
2. Suggesting Alternative Behavior
Once you know what’s causing the problem, you’ll know when to stop naturally. But to make prevention even more paramount, you need to introduce an alternative behavior to your routine. Whether you’d like to learn a new language, play music, or work out instead. You need to write it down somewhere it’ll remind you to do so.
3. Implementing Alternative Behavior
Busting out a few pushups or playing a few notes isn’t going to get you off of the tech addiction. Instead, come up with interesting and engaging ways to introduce a new habit into your life. Make fitness goals or set milestones on your personal journey. Developing a new and healthy interest is one of the most effective ways of fighting behavioral addictions.
Technology Addiction: Bottom-line
Though technology addiction itself is not a severe condition often, it is usually an indicator of an underlying cause. It could be trauma, stress, anxiety, or social anxiety. This is why consulting a professional is always the best thing to do for yourself. Unfortunately, the internet is no place to seek mental help when things are out of control.
But for the remaining 90% of the time, the recovery method mentioned above works wonders. So, let us know what you think about tech addiction. And share how you’ve overcome your struggles in the comments below!