Technology… Are You Addicted?

By Eric Perry, PhD-c


“True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.” ~Seneca

We live in a world where most of our life essentials are one click away. Food, clothing, companionship, entertainment, and even sex can be attained by just a click. More and more we are giving our vital life energy to electronic devices. Look around. I am quite sure you will see what is becoming a familiar norm. The bent head, focused-non-blinking stare, the raised hand holding an electronic device, with the other hand probably tapping or swiping the screen. We are slowly becoming electronically fed zombies. Our interactions with one another are becoming less in person and more facilitated by an electronic device. It is reported that one in eight Americans suffer from problematic internet use and an estimated 30 percent of the population in China is highly addicted to the internet. Individuals who struggle forming real life connections are more likely to turn to social media sites to connect with others in an impersonal and non threatening way. Other studies show that people with anxiety, depression, ADHD, OCD, or Bipolar Disorder have an increased chance of developing an addiction to technology.

We are becoming programmed to be at the beck and call of our technological devices. A recent study noted that 70 percent of emails are checked within 6 seconds of arriving in the inbox. Further, on average people click, tap, or swipe their phones 2,617 times a day. The heaviest smart phone users touch their phones 5,417 times a day. That is approximately 2 million times a year that an electronic device has taken up moments of your life. Pause and imagine what you might have missed in those moments. Maybe you missed a sunset, a tender moment with a loved one, or perhaps something not as poetic; a stop light or tragically, a pedestrian. Life is too fleeting and fragile to be spent staring at a smart phone screen.

We have to stop and wonder what affect this is having on our children. When smart phones were first introduced they were considered a luxury and few children had them. Now it appears that every child has an iPhone, iPad or other smart electronic device. Children mimic adult behavior. They are spending less time playing with each other in order to spend time in isolation with their phone. They are not developing the important social skills necessary for adulthood. We are creating a generation of individuals who will have trouble connecting with each other in a real world way.

Technology addiction is not yet a disorder recognized by the DSM-5, but it is an umbrella term that may include addictive behavior such as cybersex, online pornography, video gaming, gambling, E-bay, social media, emails and excessive texting. It is an information overload that is causing a world wide disconnect from one another and most importantly from ourselves. At a recent convention of the American Psychological Association, the results of recent studies were presented. Social isolation, loneliness or living alone was a significant factor contributing to premature death. Each of these factors were shown to be a more significant risk factor for an early death than obesity. It is estimated that 42.6 million Americans over the age of 45 are suffering from loneliness. Marriage rates are declining and the number of people living alone is rising. Technology is robbing us of time we could be spending forming healthy connections with one another, in person.  Do you feel the need to stay connected to the world wide web as if it is feeding tube? Do you find yourself wishing you had more time to do the things you love? If you do, don’t worry… you are not alone.

There appears to be a physiological response when we are connecting to social media. A recent Harvard study showed that self-disclosure was strongly associated with increased activation in the brain regions that form the mesolimbic dopamine system. What this means is that talking about yourself lights up areas of the brain which are also activated by pleasurable acts such as eating and sex. Further, when researchers told participants they had an audience, their brains lit up even more. It appears we love talking about ourselves and love it even more when it is in front of an audience.

We are social beings and perhaps this love of sharing about ourselves is helpful to form social bonds and a sense of community even if it is only a virtual reality one. The need to share and in some cases over share becomes a problem when it begins to interfere with our lives.The constant stimulation of the dopamine system becomes an exhausting never ending loop of clicking and tapping when we receive notifications about the latest tweets or posts. Much like Pavlov’s dogs, we are being trained to respond to cues from our electronic devices to check and recheck our phones.

So how do we break the exhausting cycle of behaviors?

1. Recognize there is a problem
Be honest with yourself about the time spent on technology. This includes emails and any form of social media such as Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, etc. If you have a child, it is important to be mindful of the amount of time they spend on their phones, computers or other devices. You want to assess the number of times an electronic device is being used to disconnect from the world.

2. Create distance
When it is not absolutely necessary to have your phone by your side, put it away. Take the phone away from your child. If you must have it with you, turn off the notifications so you are not being prompted to check and recheck it. You might start off checking your email and then an hour later start to wonder where the time went.

3. Seek professional help
As with any addiction you may find some of the behaviors seem impossible to break and are interfering with the quality of your life. It is important not to feel shame to the extent that you do not seek the help of a professional.

It is important to remember that there was life before social media and there is more life to be lived and experienced outside of technology. Technology is an amazing thing but it must be handled  with care. Technology invites you to enter a world of solitary amusement. You can reinvent yourself online and satisfy your every whim. We are learning to pacify ourselves with the use of social media. Bored, angry or upset we turn to social media to soothe us. Perhaps we should take a cue from Steve Jobs, the now deceased founder of Apple. He wisely limited the amount of time his own children spent on technology. In a New York times interview he was asked whether his children loved the newly introduced iPad. He answered, “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

Perhaps, LOL meaning Laugh out Loud should really mean Loss of Life. Allow yourself to have at least one day a week without social media. Interact with your loved ones and real life friends. Remember what it is like to just be present in an unfiltered world and in the moment without worrying about likes or shares.

Thank you for reading. If you found this post to be helpful or insightful please remember to like, comment and share.

Kind regards,
Eric Perry, PhD-c


www.MakeItUltraPsychology.com
Specializing in a solution focused and results driven approach to psychotherapy, specifically treating narcissistic abuse, depression, anxiety and relationship issues
Verified by Psychology Today
Verified by Network Therapy
Verified by GoodTherapy.org


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38 responses to Technology… Are You Addicted?

  1. juliehcares says:

    I am definitely addicted. I deleted my online self completely a few years ago, even my personal blog. Then last year, I decided I wanted to get back on. I never stopped using the internet, I was just not on social media.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is so helpful. Although social media has made some positive impacts on the world by making communication easier, helping a lot of people to make money and advertise their business, the negative effects are way more than the positive effects. It has totally destroyed the way people interact with one another in person. That is why most people you meet online and talk to them almost everyday. You might think that they are the talking type and you can be craving to meet this person but when you meet the person, you find out the person is so shy. Honestly I gave that instance cause it has happened to me and I was so disappointed. On social media, we don’t usually be who we want to be but who people want us yo be and that is very bad. It also takes so much of our time! Let’s take Snapchat as an example. Snapchat has what is called “streaks” which is gotten when you and a friend on Snapchat keep sending snaps to each other every day. People can almost do anything to keep their streaks. That’s why sometimes you pick up your phone around 7am to ‘reply to messages’ and then you look at your watch and its 2pm. This id really bad. Although I use social media a lot, recently I’m trying to limit how much I use it everyday so I can be able to interact with the real world and spend time doing other things. Thank you very much for this post. I’ve really been looking for someone to talk on this.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thanks for the post. I became inactive on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in April this year and I must say I’ve felt better off without social media. However your post has made me wonder about my interaction with the internet in general..I think I’ll do some more withdrawal.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Cynthia Lynn says:

    A very important message if you have children. This addiction moves in slowly and can be out your of sight and, therefore, out of mind. My daughter would be a poster child for this issue. As parents, it is imperative to take control before the phone takes control of your child. Not one for corporal punishment, removal of a prized possession was how I disciplined my children. When I took Emma’s I-phone away for cutting school, she screamed and begged while I drove down the freeway not letting myself get sucked into her drama. She became so upset she literally threw up out the window. That is when I knew there was a major problem that needed an immediate remedy.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I recently deactivated my smart phone and started using a basic phone. This my seem drastic, but Its been a transition that started by my deleting different apps, and finally deactivation completely. The significant difference in my productivity and overall sense of purpose has had a positive effect on my life outlook. In more simple terms, I feel more alive than ever before.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. lynnefisher says:

    My way of handling it, as I need to do some level of self promotion etc as a writer, is to do it on one downstairs computer, not my laptop upstairs which is reserved for my ‘writing world only’ and not to use my mobile phone for it at all. Great article, have shared with twitter – yes some irony in that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      This is a great idea. Thank you for sharing your insight!

      Like

  7. Indeed, nailed it. Sad to say. I guess my biggest beef about technology and how addicted people are is when I still see people texting and driving. It’s scary and dangerous. What can’t wait 2 minutes until you are stopped? When it is no longer dangerous to you and everyone around you.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. floatinggold says:

    Technology – the good, the bad, the evil. Everything in moderation.
    Sometimes we are FORCED to use it, sometimes we use it ’cause we’re bored… Every now and then, we need to analyze our usage of social media and Internet in general to see how deep into it we are.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Klea says:

    Now that our Grandbabies are here we do worry about how their life will be when they are grown and what sort of technologies will be available to them. We have seen so much change in such a short amount of time ourselves, it does worry me what will happen in the future.

    I once saw a movie where life was worth more than money and each minute ticked by on a digital clock showing on their arm, the more time, the richer you were …

    Nowadays I try to stop and smell the roses more often … I cuddle the grandbabies and kiss them all over (while they still want cuddles and kisses) and actually look at and see the good and bad with our own eyes, not through the phone camera 🙂 …

    Liked by 1 person

  10. kethuprofumo says:

    Good article, dear Eric! It’s nailed the hidden menace humanity is under.
    I’m so happy I don’t have any smartphone & not going to buy it. 🙂 Have a nice day!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Social media allows a degree of separation between us and the other. It;s easier to be either very honest or very dishonest because our body language can not be read. Emojis help to express intention but are not reliable in relating our inflections and emotion. In affect it allows us unanimity and lets us project the persona we choose to express. In live, person to person interaction, we may come across very differently. I am able to express myself better in writing than in speech. I come across differently in my writing than in person. Yet, I am both of these. Addiction may come about because it’s one place that meets the need to connect in an instant. It feeds the addicts need for instant gratification.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Nicolle says:

    Great post! I agree this is a prevalent issue, and that technology, as with everything else, should be done in moderation. I may be love playing video games, but I don’t use social media; it’s nice to be out of the house once in a while, even being the introvert I am. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  13. PJ says:

    I reach for my phone first thing in the morning when I probably should do something else like meditate, pray, play with the cats or just exist. Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. EmiliyaA says:

    I am somewhat ambivalent about the whole thing. Technology is great and does not constitute a problem in itself. It only becomes a problem when we let it. I like to believe I’m not addicted but, on the other hand, I’m constantly at my computer because of my work. Social media, however, is a real menace. If used appropriately, it can be a great tool. But the tragedy is that most people use it as a substitute for life. It’s a burden those born post-1980s have to bear, or more like deal with. I belong to a generation that grew up with paper books, played out in the open with friends, and had rationed TV time. Perhaps that makes it easier for us to get the best of both worlds: we still value real life but enjoy the conveniences provided by technology. Young people have to learn to draw the line and that might just be one of the biggest challenges they face. Fingers crossed they succeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. An excellent reminder. Raising digital citizens is an area that needs to be increasingly reflected upon. In terms of both how I am personally engaging with the digital world and the boundaries I set for my kids.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. kupilih says:

    Technology can make us out of focus. I agree with those three in your article, especially no. 2 “create distance”. So many notifications and we don’t need all.
    Thank you for share

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Ana P. Rose says:

    Great article, and an eye-opener. It also makes it difficult when most people around you don’t want to communicate in person or even call. One of my longtime friends asserts that sending text messages is “caring about the relationship.” We live about 4 minutes away, and catching a coffee once in a while seems too tedious. But as long as we send occasional text messages, “we’re all okay.” But that brings me back to your blog, we live in a society that is okay with disconnection, and social media communication, I feel, does not improve any kind of relationship–at least in my experience. Thank you for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you Eric for this. At some point I was getting so addicted and almost lost myself. Thankfully that is not the case today. Many of our youths today have lost their potentials to technology. They fail to do what they are supposed to do and do what they are not supposed to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Miriam says:

    Such a powerful post Eric. I have to admit that I think I’m a bit addicted too, though I do believe it’s ask a matter of balance. I love camping, getting away from it all and connecting with nature and I think I’ve instilled that in my kids too but it is a challenge in this day and age. No doubt about that. Great post, an important topic.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. TinaGK says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with modern technology. The convenience of it can be both a positive and a negative. Recently I took leave from Facebook entirely for a couple of months, reopened my account recently and found that I just don’t want or need to be on there. Yeah, here I am on WordPress…. instead. But I’m working out a plan to not over do it here as well! I do sometimes miss the quietness before the internet. That’s when going off the grid is so necessary. But modern technology also has it’s advantages. Balance is key! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. This is a really useful post. I think one of the hardest but most important tips you listed is to create distance away from your phone. Turning off notifications is a great way to start, since you won’t be at the beck and call of every notification you receive, and instead, you can just occasionally check your phone when you’re waiting in line or waiting for someone. Another thing that resonated with me is the quote in the beginning, and the importance of “enjoying the present”, as I think nowadays, so many people become obsessed with taking the perfect photos and Snapchats that they’re not truly appreciating or experiencing things in real life. It makes you question how much technology is too much?

    Liked by 1 person

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