1. Technology addiction — sometimes called Internet addiction is a fairly new phenomenon. It’s often described as a serious problem involving the inability to control use of various kinds of technology, in particular the Internet, smartphones, tablets and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
2. Now that it’s effortless to text and access the Web and social media from almost anywhere, more of us are dependent on communicating via the tiny computers we carry with us.
3. So it’s no surprise that health experts are seeing a rise in addictive tendencies that involve technology. (Technology includes, of course, video games, cybersex/online pornography and online gambling, and these addictions are explored in more depth in other sections on Addiction.com.)
4. Even if addiction to different types of technology isn’t yet a recognized disorder on its own, the problem has been on the radar of health professionals since the 1990s.
5. Technology addiction is recognized as a widespread health problem in other countries, including Australia, China, Japan, India, Italy, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, which have established dedicated clinics to address this growing issue.
6. It’s not simply the amount of time spent with the digital device that defines an addict, though, but how excessive use adversely affects someone’s mental and physical health, daily life, relationships and academic or job performance. Symptoms can include:
a. Compulsive checking of text messages
b. Frequent changing of Facebook status and uploading of “selfies”
c. A feeling of euphoria while on the Web
d. Social withdrawal
e. Loss of interest in activities that don’t involve a computer, phone or gadget
f. Feelings of restlessness when unable to go online
g. IAD has also been linked to stress, sleep disorders and depression. Check out the section on Symptoms for a full list of potential warning signs.
7. If you’re concerned that you or a loved one is addicted to technology, it may be time to reach out to a health care professional or psychotherapist who can evaluate symptoms, make a diagnosis or rule out an addiction to technology and recommend a treatment plan. The good news is that there are a variety of available resources to help, whether you’ve just noticed the problem or have seen it worsen over time.
8. Your phone buzzes. A message, an Instagram post, a tweet — some bit of digital effluvia has come in, and it’s right there, promising a brief but necessary hit of connection. All you have to do is look.
9. The issue of “tech addiction” has been a staple of tabloidy panics for as long as anyone can remember. Yet this ancient worry has now taken on a new and more righteous flavor.
10. What is interesting is who has been pushing the issue. Several former Facebook executives, the very people who set up the Like-based systems of digital addiction and manipulation that now rule much of online life, have begun to speak out in alarm about our slavishness to digital devices.
11. Even Wall Street has weighed in, with two large investors asking Apple in January to study the health effects of its products and to make it easier for parents to limit their children’s use of iPhones and iPads.