Addiction is, in its simplest form, an unintentional or subconscious dependence on something. The most common things people are addicted to are drugs, alcohol, smoking, and technology. But, can you truly be addicted to technology? In this article, you’ll see how people are addicted to technology, and some resources to find out if you are.
Are You Addicted to Technology?
The reasoning behind this question is that everyone has become heavily dependent on technology. After all, the main point of technology is to make our lives easier. Technology includes cars, phones, the Internet, washing machines and dryers, TVs, and so on. These things are utilized on a daily basis, and we have become dependent on them. But, for some people, the technological device becomes something they can’t function without.
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Many people use washing machines and dryers to clean their clothes every week, and sometimes every day. People from the older generations, on the other hand, can tell you stories of having to wash them in a river with a washboard. It isn’t a necessity to have these appliances, yet people wouldn’t hesitate to use them before wading in a murky river. But, it’s hard to find someone who struggles with an addiction to using high-tech laundry machines.
Often, when we hear the word “technology,” people think of the Internet. It’s one of the most used forms of technology after all. You’re using it right now! Due to what is considered technology, it’s harder to diagnose someone as having an addiction to it.
According to Dr. Christina Gregory, Ph.D., you can have an addiction called Internet Addiction Disorder. It also goes by Compulsive Internet Use (CIU) and Problematic Internet Use (PIU). As with any disorder, there can be similar symptoms though they may not fit the requirements to be diagnosed.
Some symptoms of Internet Addiction Disorder include:
- Severe difficulties or complete lack of time management
- Distorted recognition of time
- Poor health
- Opening apps without realizing it, commonly social media apps
While there are more on this list, compare these symptoms to other forms of technology.
When driving to work, meeting up with friends, dropping kids off at school, or similar situations, people often find themselves alone in their cars. This isolation from other people leads us to seek entertainment. Radios and our phones are technologies we use to fill that feeling of isolation. However, for someone with an Internet addiction or technology addiction, they may choose to spend time on their phone or watching TV, rather than spending time with people in real life.
A sub-definition of addiction is anything that gets in the way of daily responsibilities. Good time management is doing tasks consistently until you have accomplished what you need to do. Whereas poor time management is the opposite of that. The biggest factor in time management is generally how often we access the Internet. Social media apps, which produce content 24/7, have an abundance of things to mindlessly scroll through. By the time you come to your senses, how much time has passed? Often more than you expected. If you do this constantly, you may struggle with technology addiction.
Cell phones are a procrastinator’s best friend. As with time management, access to the Internet is a way to avoid doing things that are unpleasant or uninteresting. These unpleasant things could be the motivation to sit on your phone or computer instead. For example, a stigma surrounding teenagers says they choose to be absorbed in their phones in order to procrastinate chores (i.e., washing dishes or laundry, taking out the trash, etc.). Procrastination can decrease productivity which can, in turn, lower self-esteem and even lead to poor health. When technology comes first over daily responsibilities and health, it’s a problem.
Speaking of health, a common sign of severe addiction is a decrease in wellbeing. Addictions, in general, can give you a sense of urgency with what you are addicted to. If you’re addicted to smoking, you’re looking for the next break you can take. The desire to indulge in your addiction will make you forget about important things such as having good hygiene, eating properly, and getting enough sleep. When you neglect your physical health to focus on technology, your mental and emotional health deteriorates as well.
This symptom of Internet Addiction Disorder is common in life. Instead, this is a symptom that, when combined with others, can help form a diagnosis. Mood swings are an obvious symptom of many addictions. People typically have them when they haven’t had their “fix.” In the case of a technology addiction, this may be if they haven’t used social media in a few hours. They can be caused by stress, emotional or mental issues, fatigue, hunger, and so on. However, you can have a mood swing because of hormones or other stressors in your life. Since they are so common, having mood swings does not insinuate that you have an addiction. They are just a common symptom of addiction.
Knowing if You Have an Addiction
Those are just some symptoms of Internet Addiction Disorder that can be applied with different forms of technology. If you want to know whether you’re addicted to technology, try asking questions like these:
- Could you live without it?
- Does using it make you feel better?
- How much time do you spend using it?
- Is it interfering with your responsibilities?
- When you’re not using it, how often do you think about it?
Another way to know if you have a technology addiction is by taking an online test. For example, Mind Diagnostics offers a video game addiction quiz to help people see if they could be addicted to video games. Though these tests are not actual diagnoses, they can let you know if you should seek out professional help for your behaviors.
Technology is everywhere and it can take hold of people in different ways. Remember that technology is meant to make our lives easier, not to take over our lives. Dependency is often viewed as the same as addiction, though there are healthy dependencies. Things like medical advances and emergency transportation have saved lives, and many societies are dependent on them. They have also produced jobs that people make money from to support themselves and their families. It’s a healthy cycle. But can you be addicted to, not just dependent on, technology? The answer is yes. But as long as we know whether it’s a healthy dependency or an addiction, we can be a little more in control.