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:
- Video games
- Online multiplayer games
- Smart phones
- Social media
- The internet
- Dating sites
- Online gambling
- Chat rooms
- Message boards
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.
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.
Pine Grove offers a weekly outpatient technology addiction group for those aged 13 to 17. This treatment is ideal for those who struggle with an excessive use of tech, including video games, computers, and smart phones. This program is facilitated by a clinical psychologist in collaboration with a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. By participating, group members 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 your teen is addicted to technology, there is hope. Located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Pine Grove is committed to providing the highest quality, most effective health care services. Please contact 1-888-574-HOPE to speak with our staff today.