New Types of Technology Addiction
The rapid development of technology and the internet have left us much more vulnerable to their addictive nature. Technology addiction, which is also known as internet or digital addiction, is a real and growing problem which refers to the uncontrollable need to use all kinds of technological devices such as smartphones, computers, and gaming systems. Tech addiction is more common among teenagers, but it can also be seen among people of all ages. Even though internet addiction disorder is not officially recognized as a mental health disorder, its symptoms are similar to compulsive gambling, which on the other hand is considered to be a mental disorder. As with compulsive gambling and other impulse control disorders, technology addiction can have an extremely negative impact on our career, family, and social life.
Being addicted to technology can cause emotional symptoms like depression, anxiety, mood swings, feelings of guilt, avoidance of work or school, no sense of time, loneliness, fear, procrastination, boredom with routine tasks, and social isolation. Digital addiction can also cause headaches, backaches, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, insomnia, poor nutrition, poor personal hygiene, vision problems, and weight gain or weight loss. Many people use technology as an escape mechanism whenever they want to avoid some unpleasant life situations or to relieve boredom and improve their mood. And because nowadays everything is online – from ordering our groceries and household items, to interacting with friends and family or watching movies, it can be really easy to become internet addicts. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most common types of technology addiction today.
Online Gambling Addiction
When your online gambling goes from a fun and harmless pastime to an unhealthy obsession, it can have some serious consequences on your physical as well as your emotional health and well being. Online gambling addiction is one of the most common impulse control disorders nowadays and is considered to be a mental health disorder. People who are addicted to online gambling are often willing to risk everything from their finances, to their relationships and health – all in hope of winning in online poker, casinos, or betting. It has been proven that online gambling stimulates the brain in the same way drugs and alcohol do, but it can go undetected by other people for a long time.
Although gaming is not a new addiction, these days it has become more popular than ever before. The World Health Organization recognizes gaming or computer addiction as a mental health disorder that is manifested by obsessive computer game playing. Gaming addicts can spend hours and hours playing games like World of Warcraft, Minecraft, or Fortnite on the computer, completely ignoring their other life interests, daily activities, their hygiene, and their health. Part of what makes gaming so addictive is the rewards in these games – every time the individual completes a level or kills an opponent, receives a boost of dopamine, an important brain chemical also known as a pleasure chemical that makes us feel good.
Social Media Addiction
According to studies, 86% of people worldwide use social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok. And even though the majority of people that use social media don’t have any problems, some users can become addicted to social media platforms. Social networking sites are extremely popular nowadays, especially among teenagers, which makes this type of addiction an extremely dangerous threat to society. Social media platforms can invoke a false sense of connection leaving people feeling even more alone and isolated. It has both physical and psychological effects on users, causing stress, anxiety, and depression. Excessive use of social media often leads to decrease in our academic and work performances and has a negative impact on our personal relationships.
Online Shopping Addiction
Who doesn’t love shopping? Having so many different options at our fingertips can be life-saving, especially in the past two years of the pandemic, when more people turned to the internet to purchase everything they would normally purchase in person. And because it is so easy to do, online shopping can be highly addictive and get in the way of other areas of our life. Also known as compulsive buying disorder, online shopping addiction is most of the time just a way to improve our mood at the moment. Therefore, many people end up becoming addicted to shopping and splurge on things they don’t even need. Compulsive buying can lead to debt and hoarding and interfere seriously with our school, work, and relationships with family and friends.
Internet Sex Addiction
Cybersex or internet sex addiction is an unhealthy obsession with online pornography, adult websites and chat rooms. This addiction can affect people’s ability to form real-life intimate relationships and maintain a functional daily routine. Internet sex addicts are unable to control the amount of time they spend every day on adult websites and they will eventually become less interested in real sexual engagement. It has been proven that excessive internet use for cybersex can result in feelings of guilt, shame, sadness, loneliness, and problems in relationships and social life, symptoms that are similar to substance addiction.
Content Consumption Addiction
Smartphones have become an essential part of our everyday lives. But, if you feel the urge to constantly scroll on your smartphone in order to read the latest news, see the latest photos, or just to check the weather forecast, you might be addicted to the consumption of content. The internet provides us with a wealth of knowledge, and while this is good for the majority of people, for some this compulsive information seeking can become a real problem that can reduce their productivity at school or work. According to experts, this behavior is not really related to finding news, but it’s about reducing anxiety.
Treating Technology Addiction
The first step (and probably the most challenging one) of treating technology addiction is recognition that there’s a huge problem. The individual should be aware of their problem and they should realize that they are addicted to the internet and be willing to get professional help. In many instances, family and friends are usually the first ones who will notice that there’s a problem with the individual and will offer some kind of help. If the person is motivated to overcome their addiction, the problem will resolve itself with self-corrective behavior such as limiting internet time. Since many technology addicts have some underlying health disorders such as anxiety or depression, professionals claim that anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications can also be really effective in the treatment of digital addictions. Medications can manage symptoms of these underlying illnesses and control intrusive thoughts about going online. Physical activity has also proven to be very effective in decreasing the amount of time people spend on the internet. Physical activity also helps in increasing serotonin levels, which is important because they contribute to feelings of happiness. However, there are some technology addicts that will need to get professional help from addiction therapists, whether it’s individual or group therapy. Absence from digital devices is often encouraged at the beginning, even though the real goal of the treatment is balance and moderation when it comes to use of smartphones and computers.