Technology Addiction: A Real or Virtual Problem?
Technology and Internet addiction is a highly debated topic. What is it? What constitutes a Technology/Internet addict? And ultimately, does and addiction to technology really exist? In today’s society, we have become dependent on the technology and the Internet for many of the most basic of our functions. Communication by pen and paper and even telephone has declined dramatically, while e-mail has become a primary method of communication. Indeed, as a society, we were far better face-to-face communicators in the past than we are today. Virtual reality, in the form of on-demand movies, realistic video games and incredible new immersive technologies, has only increased the number of outlets that remove us from day-to-day interaction.
Even the proliferation of certain conditions and diseases have been attributed to the rise in device usage. Blackberry thumb, myopia (shortsightedness) due to looking at screens for long periods of time and neck and back strain due to hunching over a device have all become increasingly problematic.
On a psychological front, social media has contributed to this phenomenon as well. Those who use social media are exposed to friends and acquaintances that post regularly about the highlights of their lives. Some may seem to have the perfect life and everything may seem to be going well on the surface. This can create a feeling of frustration as they may feel like they simply don’t measure up to their friends and cohorts. As a result, stress and inadequacy can begin to build into their lives.
So, is Internet and technology addiction real and is it pervasive? If we did not have the Internet tomorrow, many of us would be rudderless. Most would certainly have a hard time adjusting to a new post-Internet reality. However, addiction takes it to the next step. When technology or the Internet provides a pleasure that we cannot derive from our day-to-day lives or when we need to use our devices at all costs even though it may interfere with our work or relationships; that is when technology can become addictive. Ultimately, technology can fill a void and reward the brain much in the way that food, gambling or even alcohol and drugs can. To that extent, technology addiction is very real and can be very damaging.