In today’s day and age, we live in a world connected through technology. Modern technology has developed numerous valuable devices — including the smartphone and smartwatch — that have made our lives easier and tasks faster. In the year 2018, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report that examined trends in internet use during that year. It stated:
- That 92% of all households had at least one computer, and 85% of all households had a broadband internet subscription
- That 84% of all households had smartphones present, while 78% of all households owned a desktop or laptop, showing that smartphone ownership surpassed all other types of internet or computing devices
- That 53% of all households had “high connectivity,” which refers to households that have a laptop or desktop, smartphone, tablet, and broadband internet connection
There is no question that technology provides various benefits aside from keeping us connected to one another. It has allowed us to access information easily, saves time, promotes better communication, and encourages greater innovation.
However, society tends to avoid shedding light on some of the consequences that may result from frequent or chronic use of technology. It has become something that most of us rely on in our daily lives, oftentimes without even realizing it. It is more important now than ever to emphasize the increased risks of developing a technology addiction, what that may look like, and different ways to recover from it.
Basic Facts of Technology Addiction
When most people consider addiction, the first thought that typically comes to mind is substance use. Some people may think of behavioral addictions, although those are typically a second thought to alcohol or drug addiction. Technology addiction falls within the category of behavioral addictions.
While substance use addictions can drastically change brain functioning, so can behavioral addictions. While technology addiction is not recognized by the DSM-5 — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, used to define psychological disorders — it can still wreak havoc on an individual’s physical and psychological health.
How Technology Use Affects the Brain
The brain processes all kinds of addiction in a similar way. In general, our brains are naturally wired to seek out pleasurable experiences. Interacting with technology, whether it be winning a video game or getting likes on a picture, releases dopamine, which is a natural neurotransmitter that allows us to feel good. Once exposed to dopamine surges through a specific activity or substance, the brain and body start to crave the excess dopamine. Slowly but surely, we will find ourselves using technology more and more to feel good. Over time, our brain will become desensitized to the use of technology and associated dopamine surges, motivating us to seek dopamine surges in other ways.
Types of Technology Addiction
Technology addiction can vary greatly. Oftentimes, we will move from one form of technology use to another in search of those dopamine surges. Some of the most common examples of technology addiction include:
- Excessive texting
- Online gambling
- Excessive video gaming
- Online auctions
- Compulsive web surfing
- Prolonged social media interaction
3 Ways to Challenge Your Technology Addiction
Once your brain is exposed to the increasing benefits of technology, it can be a difficult addiction to break. As you are working to combat your technology addiction, you will be surrounded by friends and family members that are glued to their smartphones or other technology screens. It is crucial that you stay committed to altering your smartphone habits so you can be more mindful of your present human experience.
#1. Limit Screen Time
Most smartphones offer a setting called screen time which allows you to track how much time you are spending on your phone altogether and time spent on individual applications. Screen time also allows you to set screen time limits for specific applications and schedule downtime, which makes it so only certain apps are available during the scheduled time. This can be a great way to record how much time you are spending on technology and to set limits when appropriate.
#2. Delete Problematic Applications
Another way that you can challenge your technology addiction or chronic technology usage would be to delete problematic apps. Often we forget that when we delete something, it is not always gone permanently, especially when it comes to applications. When you find yourself spending too much time on gaming applications, TikTok, etc., delete the app entirely from your phone. If you find yourself needing to redownload it, you can. For the time being, however, you can try to make it out of sight, out of mind.
#3. Turn Off and Tune In
Lastly, combat your technology addiction by turning your technology off and tuning in to the world around you. When it comes to healing and growth, this is better known as mindfulness. Sometimes we neglect to recognize how easy it is to disconnect from our phones and social media just by turning our phones off. When we give ourselves the opportunity to truly engage with the people and the world around us, we become fully immersed in the human experience. This is ideal for mental and physical health, as doing so keeps us from feeling bored, isolated, and depressed.
A behavioral addiction that is often dismissed in society today is technology addiction. As the use of smartphones and other smart devices has taken over the world, it is no wonder why technology addiction is developing across the nation. While there are many benefits to technology, there are also several downsides to consider. Technology disconnects us from the vast world around us, as well as each other, in the present moment. Combat your technology addiction by limiting your screen time, disconnecting to connect, and deleting problematic apps. SoCal Mental Health recognizes the intense, modern-day challenges involved with the use of technology. We offer a range of therapeutic treatment modalities and programs to help treat substance use disorders, behavioral addictions, and other mental health disorders. To learn more about our treatment programs and options, give us a call today at (888) 627-6225.