With the continued use of various gadgets in our everyday life, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether there might be an addiction to technology. Considering whether technology addiction, otherwise known as internet addiction, can be regarded as a genuine medical disorder is still being debated. However, technology addiction-focused clinics have opened their doors across the country, in an attempt to encourage less time on smartphones and computers.
In this feature we will explain addiction to technology, why people become addicted to the internet as well as the impact of Smartphone overuse.
What Is Technology Addiction?
Technology addiction is a wide term which describes an obsession with subjects related to “tech”. Whether it’s gaming, online shopping, social media, video watching or anything related to digital technology – it falls under the same term.
Signs and Symptoms of An Addiction to Technology
- Spending increased amounts of time on the technological device
- Not being able to limit the time spent using the devices
- Neglecting time with family, friends or other close relationships
- Neglecting one’s hygiene
- A lack of work or school attendance and lowered performance
- A negative attitude towards someone who criticises the amount of time spent on the device
- Developing less interest in hobbies or things once enjoyed
- Neglecting other responsibilities such as house cleaning
- Feelings of restlessness and anxiety in the absence of technology or a device
How Being Addicted to the Internet Works
- As any behavioural addiction, internet addiction is rooted in a disarray of the brain‘s reward functioning. The secretion of chemicals, such as dopamine, is influenced by receptors in sections of the brain such as the ventral tegmental area and the amygdala.
- This is responsible for creating enjoyable sensations which are often desired to be repeated. After a certain period, the brain becomes accustomed to the increased levels of dopamine. This prompts the affected person to engage in the behaviour in question even more.
- This leads to intensifying the time spent on technology in order to keep the positive effects created in the beginning. Stopping the desired behaviour may result in withdrawal syndrome as the brain realigns to its original levels of dopamine.
Addiction to Smartphones
As we rely on our smartphones on a daily basis, there has been concern regarding its potentially harmful overuse. Even though smartphone addiction is not officially recognised as a clinical diagnosis, it is being actively researched.
Mobile Phone Addiction in the United Kingdom
Research conducted in the UK which has been published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, explored phone accumulating results from more than 1,043 survey responses. This research indicated that 406 persons met the benchmarking indicators of a ‘smartphone addiction’.
These individuals said they had displayed symptoms such as the inability to control for how long they spend on their phones while also experiencing distress when they are not able to use their phone whilst also neglecting other more meaningful factors of their life.
More than two thirds of this group (68.7 per cent) said that they had experienced insufficient sleep, in comparison to those without smartphone addiction (57.1 per cent). Almost a quarter of the persons questioned indicated using their phone for three hours a day, where 18.5 per cent spent more than five hours a day on their mobile devices.
The Negative Impact of Smartphone Overuse
There are a number of negative health effects that could be associated with the intemperate use of a smartphone. Excessively using your smartphone does not increase the risk of some cancers, which is a common misconception, but may negatively impact your nervous system.
Physical symptoms of smartphone overuse include headaches, sometimes migraines, decreased attention, short temper, sleep disorders. Other mentally disruptive factors include an increase in loneliness and depression as well as anxiety.
Treatment for Smartphone and Internet Addiction
Anyone who feels like they might need to curb their smartphone or internet use can find specialist treatment centres that provide a “digital detox” programme. Such treatments help patients take a break from online media. Therapy, either in a group or individually taken, is also helpful in giving a significant boost in regulating technology use.
Acknowledgement is the first step towards overcoming technology addiction. Do not allow another day go by in where you battle under the pressure of this condition. Get I’m touch with your doctor or addiction specialist immediately to look into available treatment options.
There are accessible facilities across the UK treating addictions to various technological elements of our lives. Getting one’s healthy life back is also supported by tightly knit communities which mutually support each other.