By Madison Forster
In todays world of technology, it has become more common for children, teens, and adults to develop a dependency to the internet, social media, and online games. This can lead to a fear of “missing out” and feeling left out from friends. An addiction to technology is now considered a behavioral addiction. So, why is technology so addicting? Well, there is a neurological change in the brain with continuing use of technology.
How Technology Addiction Impacts the Brain
On the neurological level, getting a “reward” leads the brain to release dopamine. This reward can be getting a message from someone, receiving likes on a post, or beating a level on a video game. Over time, you can develop a craving to that “happy feeling”, and feel the need to achieve it again and again.
Signs of a Technology Addiction
How do you know if you suffer from a technology addiction? Here are some signs to look out for in yourself or in your child:
- Poor hygiene
- Decreased interest in other activities that are offline
- Irritability/frustration when forced to disconnect
- Continued use even if there are negative consequences at school, work, or personal relationships
Risks of a Technology Addiction
According to MentalUp.com, there are some serious and long term risks of having a technology addiction:
- A feeling of guilt of overusing the internet/technology
- Euphoria feelings (Only when using technology/internet)
- Inability to determine priorities or to postpone plans
- Isolation from one’s social environment
- Losing the concept of time
- Extreme defense of usage habit
- Avoiding work; poor performance at work or school
- Continuous deferment and avoidance of responsibilities
- Sudden mood changes
- Fear of not having access to the internet/technology
- Feeling of loneliness
- Bored while performing routine work
- Memory loss
How to Help with a Technology Addiction
If you believe you are suffering with a technology addiction, or that your child is-There are ways to set limits and avoid a dependence on technology.
- Limit your use. Figure out how long you would like to spend online and stick with your limit. If you are trying to help your child, there are parental controls you can set on their smartphones, tablets, and online gaming consoles.
- Mute notifications. Turning off notifications can help with distractions and from receiving that “reward” feeling.
- Focus on other activities. Since having a technology addiction can lead to a decreased interest in offline activities, finding things of interest that don’t involve being “plugged in” can help. Try a new hobby, hang out with friends and family, and enjoy the extra free time you have.
Ask your children the following questions to help them understand the risks of a technology addiction and how you are trying to help:
- How much time do you think you spend online? Too much, too little, or just enough?
- What makes you feel good or happy when you are on social media? What about when you are playing a video game?
- What are some “bad things” you can think of that could happen if you spend too much time online?
- If you were not able to go online as much as your friends do, how would you feel?
- Are there any activities you are interested in trying? Do you think you have the time to do them?
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