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21st century addictions: technologies

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Technology addiction is an increasingly common problem, but what are its symptoms? And what are the consequences? At UNIR we address this delicate issue.

In recent years, the role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in people’s daily lives has increased. Currently, a large percentage of the population has access to them and their use is increasingly occurring at younger ages. Although it is true that they have improved daily life and are designed to facilitate certain situations, such as communication, supporting learning, saving time in the usual procedures, etc. its improper use can lead to serious problems.

Among the addictions that are frequent today, we can differentiate those related to substances —such as drugs— and non-substance addictions —to shopping, work, video games—, including technologies within this second group. In the age of hyperconnectivity, screens have taken control of many people’s lives, a trend that is growing and has been accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What is technology addiction?

An  addiction is a dangerous behavior of consumption of substances or products that are difficult to get rid of since they produce dependency.

Technology addiction refers to inappropriate and excessive use of the internet, mobile phones, computers, video games… It occurs when a person uses technological devices more and more, gradually losing the ability to manage time and the way they are used. , as well as generating discomfort (including anxiety and stress) at times when they cannot be used, generating dependence on the use of that object.

Symptoms

The inappropriate and prolonged use of technologies, together with their advances and continuous improvements and modifications, produce digital addiction to these devices and services in some people. There are various behaviors that indicate that a person may be in this situation:

  • Direct social isolation: they use technologies to interact but they move away from direct contact with others.
  • Neglecting daily activities.
  • Great digital dependence, even reaching the inability to carry out normal activities and procedures without the use of technology.
  • Uncontrolled increase in usage time.
  • Feelings of sadness and irritability if they do not have access to ICT.
  • Reduced hours of sleep.

And in some occasions it can be given:

  • Strong feeling of need for information, they need to consult the internet constantly to find out everything about topics of interest to them.
  • Desire for having the latest in new technologies to feel good.
  • Dependence on interactions and feedback on social networks: discomfort if they do not get the expected “likes”. 

Consequences of technological addiction

The symptoms that arise from an addiction to technology end up affecting the daily life of those who suffer from it. The most common in this situation is:

  • Rupture and disappearance of direct and real social relationships due to the isolation that the addicted person develops.
  • Destruction of the real world, being replaced by the digital one.
  • Development of nomophobia: irrational fear of being without a mobile phone or that it is not working (coverage, battery).
  • Loss of notion of time.
  • Feelings of anger or stress.
  • Decreased hours of daily healthy habits such as sleeping or eating, this time being occupied by technologies.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Family and social communication becomes more complicated.

Professional support for your improvement

From the psychological field you can get help to overcome an addiction. Specifically, technology can be treated in two ways —through psychotherapy with a professional or if the cause of the anxiety is organic with medication as long as it is prescribed by a doctor. In addition, some key points can be followed to overcome them:

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  • Reduce the time of use by establishing specific schedules and activities to be carried out with the technologies.
  • Ask for help.
  • Talk about the situation and feelings.
  • Respect the time of habitual daily activities such as sleeping or eating.
  • Spend time each day socializing in real life.
  • Do outdoor activities.

Regarding therapeutic intervention with expert psychologists in the field, the number of sessions and type of therapy will depend on the specific subject, their needs and the situation to be resolved. What is important to note is that, in cases of addiction, it is always advisable to go to a professional to help overcome it in a healthy and positive way.

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