Technology is everywhere, and it is not going away. Teenagers stare down at their iPhones, or keep their eyes glued to a tablet or laptop, instead of observing the world around them. It’s not unusual to see two adolescents seated together on a bus, texting furiously on their mobiles rather than talking to one another. The fact that teens are so dependent on technology makes sense in our world, but it may also lead to negative consequences.
What Is Technology Addiction?
Addiction is defined as “a condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable, but the continued act becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities (such as work, relationships, or health).”
Behavioral addictions include gambling, sex, shopping, and the compulsive use of technology. Many people, particularly adolescents, become addicted to a variety of different technologies, including:
Research indicates that technology addiction is becoming more and more prevalent. In one study, researchers found that 14% of participants were normal users, 61% mildly overused the technology, and 24% were moderate or serious over-users. In the U.S., estimates indicate that between 1.5% and 8.2% of the general population suffers from this compulsive use, which is significantly related to lower levels of health and happiness (and higher levels of depression).
Although technology isn’t what comes to mind when people think of addiction, this phenomenon is very real and can ruin lives. As an increasing number of devices and platforms become available, more and more people struggle to live without them for even a few minutes at a time. Fortunately, clear warning signs exist, and treatment is possible.
- Video games
- Online multiplayer games
- Social media
- The internet
- Dating sites
- Online gambling
- Chat rooms
- Message boards
CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS OF TECHNOLOGY ADDICTION
A recent study published in the journal Addiction explains that tech addiction should be made diagnosable through certain criteria, much like other behavioral addictions included in the DSM-5. These include:
- Using the internet for “non-essential” reasons
- Using technology for a minimum of 6 hours per day over the course of 3+ months
- Significant impairment of one’s functional and psychosocial levels due to technology use
- Feeling a compulsion to use technology when it is unavailable
- Experiencing discomfort or agitation when its use is limited
- Continued excessive use despite negative effects on social or school life
- Loss of interest in activities outside of the internet
- Using technology as an escape from negative moods or experiences
- Lack of control over one’s technology use
- Frequently checking one’s devices
- Using a device in a dangerous setting (texting while driving)
- Neglecting other obligations in favor of spending time on one’s device
- Poor work or school performance
TECHNOLOGY ADDICTION TREATMENT
When someone has a substance use disorder, complete abstinence is recommended. However, the internet is embedded in modern life – in order to successfully recover from tech addiction and still function at work or school, it’s important to learn how to control one’s use.
Bevill and Associates Behavioral Health offers an outpatient technology addiction program. This treatment is ideal for those who struggle with excessive use of technology, including video games, computers, and smartphones. This program is under the direction of Al Bevill, LPC. The goal of treatment is to help the individual learn the necessary skills to develop a healthy relationship with technology that is in balance with their lives and relationship goals.
WHAT TO DO WHEN TECHNOLOGY TAKES OVER YOUR LIFE
If you or a loved one is addicted to technology, there is hope. Located in Birmingham, AL Bevill and Associates Behavioral Health is committed to providing the highest quality, most effective health care services. Please contact 205-610-9319 to find out more information or to schedule an appointment.
TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
If you have any questions or would like to contact us by email, you can complete a brief confidential contact form. Once you submit the contact form, a Bevill and Associates intake staff member will respond as soon as possible.
Bevill and Associates LLC is located in Birmingham, AL (on Valleydale Rd between I65 and Hwy. 280). Please click here for our full address and a map to our location. We are currently accepting new clients and warmly welcome self-referrals and referrals from physicians and other professionals.