Are You a Screen Junkie? Identifying Technology Addiction Symptoms

It’s 2018, and sometimes it seems as though everyone has their face buried in a screen of some sort. Phones, laptops, iPads, tablets, and music devices are standard items for most, and they go with us to work, school, and to social activities on a regular basis. Technology is a wonderful tool for many, that makes it easier to communicate with family and loved ones, stay connected to the news and the world around us, and increase work production in many industries. However, there can be a downside to being connected all the time. In this day and age, it’s important to be aware of technology addiction symptoms so that these tools don’t turn into burdens and negatively impact our daily lives.

Recognizing Technology Addiction Symptoms

It can be difficult to determine whether technology has become a problem in someone’s life because the use of these devices is such a large part of daily routine for so many people, especially in the United States, where access to the Internet is standard for the majority. For example, someone may be using their phone all day because it’s an important part of their job and playing video games daily is a routine recreational activity for many people. However, addiction to electronics is real for some people, and it’s important to recognize it when it’s happening. Some technology addiction symptoms to look out for include:

  • being unable to stop using the phone, Internet, or another device when something important comes up
  • staying up all night and failing to get enough sleep due to using the phone or playing video games at all hours of the day
  • irritability, mood swings, and even aggression when one is not able to access their devices
  • being unable to be emotionally present during important family gatherings or events due to electronics
  • performing poorly in school or at work- getting bad grades or missing deadlines- due to being focused on a phone, tablet, etc.
  • isolating from friends and family in favor of using electronics

These are just some of the technology addiction symptoms to look out for. The truth is that if electronics are impacting an individual’s ability to live a well-rounded life and attend to their obligations, technology has probably become an issue for them.

The Effects of Technology Addiction

Technology addiction symptoms or electronics addiction may seem silly to some or appear to not be as big of an issue as other addiction or mental health problems. However, numerous studies have shown that technology addiction is real and that it can profoundly impact the lives of those who suffer from it.

In fact, the use of electronics can produce dopamine that affects the brain in similar ways that drugs and compulsive behaviors like gambling do. When this “reward response” is reinforced through the excessive use of electronics, someone can develop a compulsion to continue that behavior. This is called a behavioral, or process addiction, as opposed to a substance addiction. In these cases, someone doesn’t depend on a chemical, but rather obsessively engages in a behavior that they can’t control, leading to many detrimental effects on mental and physical health. Technology addiction symptoms can lead to isolation from friends and family, trouble at work and school, excessive spending on new devices or games, and serious mood disturbances. In one extreme case, a man in the UK died of a blood clot, which doctors believe may have formed due to his habit of playing video games for twelve hours a day in the same position (The Daily Mail.)

Dealing With Technology Addiction Symptoms

Technology addiction symptoms may rarely result in death, unlike substance addictions, but it’s still a serious condition. Behavioral addictions can be insidious and hard to break because on the surface they can appear to simply be habits or hobbies. However, when these behaviors cross over into obsession and compulsion, they can cause real harm.

Medical professionals and treatment centers are starting to take notice. Recently, programs for helping technology addicts treat their condition have been established in many regions of the United States. Like substance abuse treatment centers, these programs offer hope for people who suffer from dependence on something harmful. In 2018, as electronics become more readily available, it’s vital that we are able to recognize technology addiction symptoms in order to intervene and treat the condition as effectively as possible.

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