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Addiction Behavior Brain and Mental Performance Lifestyle

Digital Addiction Is Similar To Substance Abuse

4 years, 2 months ago

10573  0
Posted on Apr 19, 2018, 5 p.m.

Smartphones to some are an integral part of their lives, keeping them connected to work, family, and friends keeping them in the know at all times. Problem is that some go to far, they don’t know when to put it down, and can’t ignore or shut it off.


While there can be upsides to improved technology, there can also be downsides to this convenience, such as many have become so addicted to the constant use of chimes, pings, vibrations, and alerts from the devices they are unable to ignore new texts, images, and emails; or even put it down, let alone shut it off. Experts are now saying that smartphone use is just like any other type is substance abuse, as published in NeuroRegulation.

Behavioral addiction of smartphone use begins by forming neurological connections in ways very similar to how opioid addiction is experienced by people taking oxycontin for pain relief, the addiction happens gradually, according to researchers from San Francisco State University.


Addiction to social media technologies can actually have negative effects on real life social connections. 135 students participated in a survey in which it was found that those who used their phones the heaviest reported higher levels of anxiety, isolation, depression, and loneliness. Loneliness is a consequence of face to face in person interactions being replaced with a form of communication where body language and other signals cannot be interpreted. Those same students were also found to almost always multitasked while studying, eating, watching media, or attended classes. This kind of constant activity does not allow adequate time for the mind and body to relax, regenerate, and unwind, that results in semi-tasking which is where people do 2 or more task at the same time but half as well, or less, as it would have been if focused on a single task at a time.  


Some see this growing digital addiction as not our fault but rather as a result of the tech industry desire to increase profits, while others say its a person’s choice to stare at a screen rather then go out into the real world and associate, noone is twisting your arm to make you do it. Yet it is in the tech design to be addicting as push notifications, vibrations and other alerts can make a person feel compelled to look by triggering the same neural pathways which once alerted us imminent danger. Now those same mechanisms which once served to keep us alive have been hijacked for the most trivial pieces of information that can make you miss out on real life companionship and opportunities.


Tech addicts need not fear there is hope, it’s called will power, yes you still do have it, you just have to want to. Just like a person can train themselves to eat less salt or sugar, one can train yourself to become less addicted to technology. You need to start by recognizing that tech companies have been manipulating innate biological responses to danger, to keep you wanting more. Turn off push notifications, only allow yourself a set amount of time each day to use social media/etc, respond to emails and social media at specific times, schedule periods of time with no technology or interruptions to focus on important tasks or actually spend time outside or even better with an actual person in real life.


You are not a machine, you are human, you need interaction with other people in real life, this is a fact. More and more studies show technology can be an addiction which can have side effects and consequences. Technology has come so far, yet it’s pushing us back. Put it down, pick your head up, go outdoors, go do that task you’ve not been able to do, read a book, spend time with other people in person, draw, dance, anything just put it down, your mind will thank you for it.



Materials provided by San Francisco State University

Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Erik Peper, Richard Harvey. Digital Addiction: Increased Loneliness, Anxiety, and Depression. NeuroRegulation, 2018; 5 (1): 3 DOI: 10.15540/nr.5.1.3


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