What does your day look like? You wake up from the sound of an alarm clock on your phone, scroll through Instagram, reply to a comment… You have breakfast while reading the news on social networks or typing a to-do list in your notes. On the way to work, listening to a podcast, answering an email, and looking for a gift for a friend at the same time?
Smartphones make life easier: we communicate, work, have fun, meditate, schedule, check traffic, shop, and much more, without noticing how many hours we spend looking at screens. Leaving your smartphone at home or discovering a dead battery is a source of stress for many people. And possibly a sign of addiction.
Causes of gadget addiction
Gadget addiction is the uncontrolled use of gadgets. It harms social life as well as health and psychological well-being. Causes of addiction:
- Unpleasant feelings that are easy to “drown out” with the help of smartphones. Let’s say you feel lonely, but “friends” in social networks give the illusion of contact, involvement in their lives, and the opportunity to share yours with them. Therefore, you check for updates as often as possible, publish your own and feel in the thick of things, without feeling any addiction.
- Difficulties in communication, and inability to build relationships in reality, hence the escape into the virtual world, and the formation of dependence. People tend to withdraw from situations in which they experience stress and dissatisfaction. This is called “escapism“, the smartphone becomes a tool for avoiding reality, and the Internet makes it possible to create a better version of yourself and imitate the life of your dreams. An addiction is forming.
- The need for attention. When you get messages, likes, and comments, it’s easy to feel interesting and important. If in everyday life this feeling is rare, you will strive to get what you want, even if it is addictive.
- Avoidance of important things. To-do lists and tasks are piling up, waiting for a major project. There is a temptation to delay the start of work, and dependence on a smartphone is just in time. Even the goal of “learning to meditate” can remain only a goal if you spend time not on mastering the practice, but on research: what is the use of it, what applications are better, what books to read, which celebrity meditates, etc.
- Inability to be alone with your thoughts and feelings.
Thus, for the most part, the causes of addiction to smartphones are not directly related to them, but to personal problems. Smartphones are just an unfortunate way to drown out discomfort or distraction.
Consequences of gadget addiction
Those who have experienced digital addiction complain of relationship difficulties, loss of enjoyment of life, apathy, and a number of physiological problems. Dependence on gadgets can lead to the following consequences:
- Relationship difficulties. Messages with an abundance of emojis and stickers can replace the need for live communication, and with a pronounced dependence, difficulties arise both in existing relationships and in building new ones.
- Loss of connection with yourself and your needs and desires.
- Inability to occupy yourself with something other than gadgets.
- Difficulty adapting to change.
- Inability to rejoice in what used to please.
- Inability to achieve goals due to loss of ability to focus on important tasks
- Deterioration in health. Addiction can cause:
- Loss of ability to perceive a large amount of information,
- Memory impairment,
- Increased irritability and anxiety,
- Difficulties in making decisions
- Visual impairment,
- Neck and back pain,
- Sleep quality disorders
What is nomophobia?
Gadget addiction is associated with nomophobia. Nomophobia (from the English abbreviation “no mobile phone phobia”) is the fear of being temporarily without a smartphone. The results of a 2010 study in the UK showed that 53% of participants feel anxious if their phone is dead, offline, or left at home. In the US, about 65% of respondents indicated that they keep their phone next to the bed or sleep with it.
The Department of Psychology at Dublin Business School conducted an experiment to study the increase in anxiety depending on the state of charge of the smartphone of volunteers. When the charge level dropped below 40%, the alarm increased. In another experiment, the subjects heard the sound of incoming notifications, but could not check their smartphones. Their blood pressure was rising.
Ignoring the symptoms of gadget addiction can lead to digital dementia.
What is digital dementia?
Manfred Spitzer, a neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and author of books on how the brain works, called digital dementia a memory disorder that occurs due to gadget addiction. In his opinion, digital technologies save humanity from mental work, so a large number of neural connections are weakened and destroyed. When receiving information from the Internet, the brain copies it, but does not process it, and the ability for critical thinking and memory weakens.
The likelihood of developing digital dementia is in people who are still quite young, but already forget important dates, topics of recent conversations with loved ones, and mail passwords. Almost certainly, they also have an addiction to gadgets, which they do not realize.
How to get rid of phone addiction?
The fight against phone addiction may seem like a losing battle, but it’s not.
- Reduce the number of applications, unsubscribe to channels and mailing lists that you don’t read, and keep relevant and interesting.
- Set up notifications so that you receive only the important ones. A notification about every “like” or status update on the social network only reinforces the addiction to the smartphone.
- Try not to use your phone or take it to bed an hour or two before going to bed.
- Turn off your smartphone at night or select sleep mode.
- While working or studying, try the Pomodoro method: when starting a task, turn on the timer for 25 minutes, then pause for 5 minutes. After four “pomodoros” take a break for 15-20 minutes, and continue to work for 25 minutes. No smartphones during working hours, please during breaks. This will help you get your addiction under control.
- If you work in front of the monitor for a long time, do a warm-up during breaks.
- Decide at what time you are in touch with colleagues, customers, and clients, and when is your personal time. Decreasing addiction helps clear time frames for work and personal life.
- Remember that not every comment on the Internet is worth responding to, do not feed your addiction with meaningless dialogues with strangers.
- Any physical activity is better than none: choose what you like and practice regularly.
- Designate smartphone-free areas, such as the bedroom and dining table.
- List 20 things that bring you pleasure that is not related to gadgets: let your free time be filled with pleasant activities, and not increased dependence on the screen.
- Read art paper books.
- Periodically spend a day off without a smartphone. If the addiction is strong, at first the mere thought of it may cause disagreement. But – try!
- If possible, choose live communication, not ZOOM.
- Analyze everything you read, check facts and news that cause anxiety, and learn to think critically.
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These tips for getting rid of addiction may seem like a useful find, but after an hour they will be lost in a stream of other information. To implement any idea, you have 72 hours to take the first steps. If you put it off until later, you will almost certainly abandon the idea. Therefore, I suggest that you implement at least the first points from the recommendations in the next three days, and then the rest.
Q: What are the signs of digital addiction?
A: Some common signs of digital addiction include excessive use of technology, difficulty in controlling the usage, neglecting other important tasks or responsibilities, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using digital devices, and neglecting social interactions.
Q: Is digital addiction only limited to smartphones and computers?
A: No, digital addiction can extend beyond smartphones and computers. It can also include addiction to video games, social media platforms, online gambling, and other forms of digital entertainment.
Q: Can digital addiction impact physical health?
A: Yes, digital addiction can have physical health effects such as eye strain, headaches, musculoskeletal problems, disrupted sleep patterns, and sedentary lifestyle-related issues.
Q: Is digital addiction more common in younger generations?
A: Digital addiction can affect people of all ages, but it may be more prevalent in younger generations who have grown up with constant access to technology and are more likely to engage in social media and online gaming.
Q: Can digital addiction be treated?
A: Yes, digital addiction can be treated. Treatment approaches may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, support groups, self-help strategies, and establishing healthier technology habits.