Here are Signs You Must Look Out For
Just this year, online divorce website Divorce Online cited addiction to the video game ‘Fortnite: Battle Royale’ as responsible for at least 200 divorce petitions since January that were filed through their site – a whopping 5% of the petitions the company received. This is startling evidence of the adverse impacts of this new form of addiction.
If you feel that your impulse to grab the phone when you do not really need to, or can no longer resist spending nights gaming, you may be suffering from tech addiction. Simply put, you may have a disorder that makes you lose impulse control when it comes to technology. This disorder may also be referred to as digital addiction.
How technology addiction works
Smartphones have been integrated so deeply in people’s everyday lives that the thought of living without a device is, for many, unimaginable. These days the addiction can start at a very young age. According to Dr Nicholas Kardaras, “Current clinical research correlates screen tech with disorders like ADHD, addiction, anxiety, depression, increased aggression, and even psychosis. Most shocking of all, recent brain imaging studies conclusively show that excessive screen exposure can neurologically damage a young person’s developing brain in the same way that drug addiction can.”
Tech addictions have crept up on society, and the effects are so damaging that it will take a lot of effort to reverse these impacts. The potential to abuse tech devices is high. The internet offers a new dimension to access content, game non-stop, network with people, and a host of other things. Social media has become the nursery on which new addicts are born. The compulsion to like, comment, share, and tag selfies can drive people to develop attentional disorders.
Whenever the device vibrates because of a new notification or when your tweet gets more likes than you expected, dopamine, the brain’s neurochemical reward, is released. An itch is scratched. This can happen when merely thinking about what you really look forward to. The anticipation grows stronger over time until you can no longer stop playing, chatting, swiping, or doing whatever you do with your device, no matter how much you want to.
Symptoms of technology addiction
There are different types of technology addictions such as gaming addiction, gambling, texting, sexting, porn, and others. However, they all have similar symptoms because it is basically the same problem brought on by different pleasure preferences. Here are the most critical symptoms to look out for if you use technology on a daily basis.
• If you cannot stop yourself from watching one more episode or playing one more game, then you may be suffering from video gaming addiction or screen addiction.
• You feel depressed. This is particularly common among smartphone addicts. If you get to a point where you sleep with your phone next to you it is a symptom you may be addicted.
• Like any other addiction, tech addiction causes the sufferers to lie to everyone including themselves. Dishonesty, often accompanied by guilt and anxiety, is a clear giveaway.
• You feel euphoric when you use the device you are addicted to. Addicts to the Fortnite game, in particular, have attributed their problems to the satisfying feeling of euphoria when playing the 100-player multiplayer ‘Battle Royale’.
• You cannot keep schedules or prioritize. You lose the sense of time but can always make up defensive explanations.
• Procrastination and boredom with routine tasks.
• Insomnia and dry eyes for video gaming addiction.
• Lack of focus.
The people who are most susceptible to addiction are online shoppers and gamblers, gamers, texters, social media users, and video streamers.
Effects of addiction to technology
People suffering from addiction to technology could lose a lot in life. This is because the condition affects their work lives, personal and professional relationships, finances, and health. They often spend a lot of time in solitude and distrust stands out in the way they interact with people. As a result, the addicts may end up living alternate personas online to mask their online behaviors and minimize the guilt they feel.
The virtual relationships that most sufferers form online are often the primary cause of life dissatisfaction and emotional problems disrupting young children’s lives. The emotional impact of exposure to too much information has been documented to be noticeably destructive to their behavioral and empathy development.
Health problems including nervous system, dysregulated sleep and brain development delays among children. In addition, attentional problems can be traced to early exposure and addiction to technology. Screen addiction and exposure to blue light is also known to cause serious eye problems.
Overcoming technology addiction
The first step in freeing yourself from addiction to tech is acknowledging that it is a problem and resolving to fight it. An addiction is difficult to diagnose because most people do not even know they suffer from it. Health experts agree that addiction to technology and entertainment is today’s equivalent of a heroin addiction. If you have trouble saying no to a game, device, or online interaction, admitting it is the biggest step you will have taken towards freeing yourself from dependence on it.
The next step is to set goals to work towards the recovery journey. Write down when you can use the smartphone or when to sit in front of the computer and try to stick to it. You have the option to wean yourself off as you modify your behavior and regain impulse control or you can stop cold turkey. The former is effective in managing internet addiction while the latter works best for gaming addiction.
Replace your bad tech habits with healthier ones. Used to streaming shows every night after dinner? How about eating out and getting a drink with friends instead? Craving likes on Instagram? Uninstall the app instead and never have to worry about which filter to use when posting a picture on social media to get likes.
Perhaps the most rewarding change you can make in your life to solve problems caused by addiction to gadgets is mending fences with the people around you. Make a commitment to curb the addiction and spend more quality time with the people who care about you. This will speed up the recovery process while restoring your relationships with real value.
If you feel the degree of your addiction is beyond your capacity to overcome, consider talking to a professional for help. There is help available at Omega Recovery in downtown Austin, TX and Maui Recovery. Technology is supposed to work for you; if you have gotten to a point where it is ruining your chances of a good life, it’s time to take action.