Clearly, today’s digital screens are not the innocuous, rabbit-eared TV screens of yesteryear. While people worried about television’s effects, the hypnotic power of immersive and interactive digital screens on young minds is an altogether different animal. Research is indicating a more dopamine activating – and thus potentially more addicting—effect than TV, as well as an increase in clinical disorders such as ADHD, aggression, mood disorders, and psychosis.
Tech Addiction can be defined as the tech overuse and tech obsession-related behavior that increases overtime
despite negative consequences to the user of the technology. In order to fully understand tech addiction, we need to understand the brain’s reward system and the impact of dopaminergic behaviors on the reward pathway…
How dopaminergic (dopamine activating) a behavior correlates very highly with the addictive potential of that behavior. Dopamine is the feel-good neurotransmitter that’s the most critical element in the addiction process. When a person performs an action that satisfies a need or fulfills a desire, dopamine is released into the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells beneath the cerebral hemispheres that are associated with pleasure and reward, also known as the brain’s pleasure center. In simple terms, engaging in dopaminergic behavior increases dopamine levels so that the dopamine-reward pathway is activated, thus telling the induvial to repeat what he or she just did in order to get that feel-good dopamine reward again.
Research has shown that people who are predisposed toward addiction have lower baseline levels of dopamine and other feel-good neurotransmitters such as endorphins and norepinephrine; thus they’re more likely to get hooked on any behavior that increases dopamine simply because their brains crave it more than those of people who have normal baseline neurotransmitter levels.
Omega Recovery’s Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, explains in his book “Glow Kids” how modern-day technology is equally if not more dopaminergic(addictive) than drugs and alcohol. Considered a leading expert in digital addiction, he has clinically worked with 1,000 individuals and written about the subject for Time, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Solan, and FOX News, and has appeared on Good Morning America, ABC’s 20/20, the CBS Evening News, CNN, FOX & Friends, NPR, and in Esquire, New York magazine, and Vanity Fair.
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