Technology is everywhere in our society, it is inescapable. Technology is not always a bad thing, and can help boost productivity, foster social networks, generate new ideas and promote positive change. However some people unfortunately get hooked, which can lead to problems and intervention is required. Colosoul explores this modern day issue.
– by Simon Chitre
Technology is one with our modern day society, if you are reading this it is probably from a computer, tablet or mobile phone. Look around you are you outside, or on public transport, or even at a shopping centre? I guarantee you will see at least one person with their eyes glued to a mobile phone screen or an ear plugged into a music player. Whilst technology is inherently not a bad thing, it is how frequently we use it that is an issue.
Technology addiction has recently become a problem as society has replaced more and more manual processes with technology; think of job hunting, filling in forms and communication for example. This is mainly done online now. So perhaps those addicted to technology are not solely to blame. Society expects us to be connected to technology. Most jobs require an email and mobile phones, lectures and study resources are predominately accessed online, and information is mostly in online form. So of course it is very difficult to completely escape technology, and that is part of the issue.
Technology advancement particularly the Internet, has allowed us to perform jobs faster, meet new people and make connections with like-minded people, and have increased access to entertainment. This is exciting and makes our lives more connected and explorative, as we have access to meet so many different people and learn about new things. Technology can enrich and give our lives meaning. Unfortunately some people get hooked on all this information, new networks and entertainment and don’t know how to take a break.
Just like any addiction, signs can include prolonged, sustained use of the substance or item, e.g. might be a mobile phone or video game. This includes withdrawal or disengagement from regular activities. In extreme cases this could be someone in a room for 2-3 days consecutively playing video games with very few breaks suffering from sleep deprivation, which whilst an unusual example does show the damage physically and physiologically technology addiction can have. Less extreme but more common signs of technology addiction include constant checking of your mobile phone, checking social media pages for notifications at least five to six times a day and feeling fidgety, lost or anxious if not having access to the certain technology for a short period of time. Addiction can even lead to anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders.
Addicted persons are often in what is called a feedback loop. That is they receive stimulus and are happy and satisfied for a brief while, and once they stop using it have withdrawal symptoms. These normally would subside and the person could resume whatever task they were doing. But an addicted person will use the technology so often, and they get a dopamine hit, that dopamine won’t last as long and withdrawals become harder and more painful. This pushes them back to using the technology to calm down and is often used as a coping strategy for emotional stress. They can than get stuck in this cyclic pattern, hence called a feedback loop.
There are solutions to technology addiction, so if you are reading this article and are concerned for yourself or someone close to you, do not worry. The first thing is to acknowledge that you have a problem or discuss privately with the person you’re concerned about. Secondly getting help. This might be formal through a psychologist, counsellor or group therapy or informally through friends or reading support forums online.
Strategies will vary based on the individual, but generally will involve a gradual reduction in the technology concerned and substitution with something else that is more naturally simulating. E.g. this could be replacement of Facebook with actually catching up with a few friends for coffee or drinks. Immersion in the natural environment, walking on the beach or park, exercise, real life socialising, and pursuing activities like arts and crafts, puzzles and cooking may be alternatives to technology. So don’t be scared, technology addiction is common and there are definitely strategies and people who can help you or someone close to you overcome it.
Featured Image by Taco Ekkel (Flickr); TV Addicted Image by Paul Townsend (Flickr); Social Image by Magic At Work (Flickr).