technology addiction

Technology Savvy vs. Technology Addicted

Do you stay online longer than intended? Is technology use causing problems for you at work, home, or socially? Have you tried to stop using technology but can’t? In this article, we’re exploring some of the most common signs of technology addicted individuals.

The internet is both wonderful and dangerous at the same time. You can access any type of information while also developing a technology use disorder. If you are technology savvy, you are smart with technology and have the skills and talents to operate devices. When you are technology addicted, you are preoccupied with being online.

Technology refers to smartphones, computers, laptops, tablets, and gaming stations. Any digital device can be classified as technology. It’s what you do on those devices that make them addictive. For example, on a gaming station, you can play video games. On a laptop, you can log into social media platforms. On your smartphone, you can text friends and family.

Technology Statistics

The numerous statistics showing how much time we spend online are alarming. For example,

  • Nearly 3 hours is the average amount of time Americans spend on their smartphones.
  • Smartphone users check their phones an average of 63 times a day.
  • Teens spend nearly nine hours a day on social media, while adults spend 2.5 hours.
  • It is estimated that 210 million people are addicted to the internet and social media worldwide.
  • There are 2.7 billion gamers around the world.
  • The average amount spent gaming each week is just over 7 hours.

Americans do a lot more on their devices than gaming and social media. Some are sexting or having cybersex. Some are texting, gambling, shopping, looking up pornography, surfing, watching YouTube, and chatting on social media.

Technology and the Brain

The brain plays a significant role in developing technology addiction. When you use your preferred device to engage in your desired online activities, neurotransmitters in your brain are activated, like dopamine, which is most known for releasing feel-good chemicals. When dopamine is activated, it floods the brain’s reward center, making you feel relaxed and happy.

Your brain makes a memory connection between online activity and dopamine release. And it wants to feel good again, and again, and again. To get its way, the brain will urge you to continue engaging with technology. It does this by creating constant thoughts, obsessions, and cravings. You give in to the urges and begin the cycle of addiction.

Every time you hear a notification tone letting you know there is a new message, post, update, tag, or chat, your brain notices. Those are like mini-rewards that entice you to get the bigger reward of spending time online.

Signs of Technology Addiction

Signs of technology addiction are like those of other addictions, including alcohol and drugs, sex, gambling, and any other type. If you find yourself lying to friends and family about how much time you spend on your device, is one sign. Another is risking a job, relationship, or something vital due to technology use.

Losing sleep due to use and using technology to boost your mood are additional factors of addiction. Technology use disorders consist of people neglecting work, school, hygiene, and health. They may show withdrawal symptoms when forced to quit and exhibit physical aches and pains due to sitting in one position too long. They may complain of backaches, headaches, sleep disturbances, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, weight changes, and eye issues.

5 Types of Technology Addiction

Categories of technology addiction have been established. As advancements are made, new categories may likely be added. The first category is cybersex and internet porn, and the second is net compulsions. The second category includes gambling, shopping, or trading stocks. The Cyber-relationships category includes social media activity, online dating, and other virtual communication. The final two are online game playing and web searches.

Diagnosing Technology Addicted Individuals

While technology or internet addiction has not been added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorder yet, five criteria for diagnosis have been set, including

  1. Has a preoccupation with internet activity.
  2. Must increase the amount of time they spend online to feel satisfied.
  3. Is unsuccessful in cutting back, controlling, or stopping internet activity.
  4. Is moody, restless, agitated, or depressed when trying to quit.
  5. Stays online longer than intended

These criteria, along with assessments, help determine a diagnosis. Common instruments used in assessment include the short internet addiction test, the brief symptom inventory, self-esteem scale, self-efficacy scale, and the internet use expectancies scale. Technology addiction often has co-occurring disorders. Common clinical conditions often seen with internet addictions include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance use, dissociative disorder, insomnia, suicidal ideation, alexithymia, and low self-esteem.

Treatment for Technology Addiction

Technology addiction can be treated successfully with therapies applied to substance use disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, peer support, 12 Step facilitation, and family therapy. Taking an individualized approach when creating a treatment plan.

Treatment begins with abstinence. Most people need help stopping their use of technology. Options include inpatient and outpatient levels of care. Medications may also be needed. The medicines prescribed for internet addiction include naltrexone, escitalopram, bupropion, methylphenidate, and memantine. 

Techniques implemented in treatment are practicing the opposite, like setting a timer and forcing yourself to go offline when the timer rings. Short-term and long-term goal setting and reminder cards are excellent motivational tools. Reminder cards are index cards with something written on both sides. On one side, you write five problems caused by your internet addiction. On the other side, write five benefits of quitting online activity. What you write on your cards should motivate you to continue in recovery.

If you think you have a technology addiction or aren’t sure if you do, we can help. Our screening and assessment process starts when you call us. We are here 24/7, and we look forward to discussing online addictions with you. With the right treatment team, we can help you escape the hold of the technology.