Since the start of the 21st century, technology has expanded drastically across the globe. In current times, owning a mobile phone and computer/laptop has become a necessity. The internet is also growing vastly from 4G to 5G, 2D to 3D, virtual reality, AI and much more. With the growing internet comes the dark side. Misinformation, cyberbullying, hacking, scamming, toxic situations and addictions.
A detrimental dependence on digital media and technology, such as cell phones, video games, and computers, is known as digital addiction. According to some psychologists, diseases related to drug abuse should be used to classify media and electronic device addiction. High-frequency usage of digital media and mental health conditions like depression and anxiety have been linked in studies.
The standard diagnosis manual for the psychology profession suggests a greater investigation into gaming addiction. According to the suggested criteria in the manual, 1% of the general population may meet the diagnosis.
Meaning behind Digital Addiction
Digital Addiction is the condition that occurs when an unhealthy relationship is developed between digital media and advanced technology. Although it is not a recognized diagnosis, some psychologists think that addiction to media and digital gadgets is comparable to addiction to drugs. When technology negatively impacts a user’s life and is challenging to stop using despite knowing the consequence of usage, this is known as digital addiction.
Psychologists and psychiatrists may often disagree on how to approach the issue of digital addiction. Some psychologists may compare abusing drugs to possessing a similar pattern to abusing digital technology. Others think that using technology frequently is typical in modern life and that abusing it is a symptom of deeper issues rather than a true addiction.
The Types of Digital Addiction
Digital addiction can be classified broadly into three types:
- Phone Addiction: Users who are afflicted by smartphone overuse, which has a detrimental influence on their everyday life, are said to have phone addiction, which is a clinical addiction and dependence syndrome. Paul Hokemeyer, a therapist who specializes in addiction, notes that underlying behavioural health and personality problems may be the cause of this addiction. People who struggle with this addiction may also have underlying problems like despair, anxiety, and a socially awkward attitude, which makes them turn to their devices continuously for relaxation.
- Social Media Addiction: Addiction to social media is rather simple to define. You might be a social media addict if you spend way too much time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to the point where you capture every single facet of your life on one or more of the platforms. Although social media addiction is not recognised medically, the word has recently been the focus of research and analysis, and excessive Facebook use is associated with a decline in pleasure and fulfilment.
- Internet Addiction: Pathological internet use, often known as internet addiction, is a condition where a person has trouble telling the difference between the actual world and the virtual one. This condition is identified as a classification of impulse control disorder. The tendency for sufferers to spend excessive amounts of time online not only wastes time but also increases the danger of overspending through participation in online gaming and gambling
Causes of Digital Addiction
If I asked you to name some causes of digital addiction, many of us may be able to name quite a few reasons. But what do experts say about this? Scientists and researchers have identified a few causes behind digital addiction.
1) The reward system
Drugs and other substances have the potential to induce addiction because they alter how our brains react to rewarding stimuli. Certain medicines cause the brain’s chemical dopamine, which makes us feel happy, to be released. With time and repeated use, we come to link the drug with the pleasure that dopamine produces. Some people eventually experience a rewiring of their brain’s pleasure circuitry, making them dependent on drugs to feel good.
Some scientists think that the effects of digital media on consumers’ brains are relatively comparable. Digital media releases dopamine, which makes people feel good, and for some people, engaging with media is the only way to feel good.
Social networking and other digital media platforms owners design the application purposefully to tap into this reward system. Users receive dopamine-producing rewards at a rate that is designed to keep them watching material for extended periods.
2) Depression and Anxiety Correlation
Digital media usage has been linked, according to studies, to several mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. For instance, studies have demonstrated that users who interact with a variety of social media platforms experience higher levels of depression symptoms compared to users who use fewer platforms.
According to some research, those who experience depression may be more likely to use digital media to ease their symptoms. A counterargument notes that drug misuse disorders frequently include self-medication of depressive symptoms. Hence, researchers have yet to identify cause and effect phenomena among these variables.
There is currently no evidence linking digital addiction to family history. However, research has indicated that some individuals may be more susceptible to substance abuse conditions because of hereditary features. Also, dopamine and serotonin levels may be low in those with technology addiction.
4) Quality of real-life theory
A negative or improper amount of stress makes us divulge in maladaptive behaviours. The quality of real-life theory is a theory that explains why some individuals become addicted to the Internet. It proposes that people who struggle in their offline lives may use the Internet to escape or avoid reality. As a result, those who are under stress or dissatisfied with their lives may be more likely to use the Internet as a coping mechanism.
5) Other factors
Other circumstances and life events that may be related to digital addiction include the following:
- Past trauma
- Deviations from typical neurochemical processes
- Mental illness or personality disorder history
- Internet availability and accessibility
Tips to deal with digital addiction
With the growing need for digital knowledge and application in daily life from education to job, here are a few tips to help you with your excessive usage
- Take time to cool down
- Engage in physical activity
- Create habits
- Keep away from the fear of missing out (FOMO)
- Set up usage rules and time limits
- Developing interpersonal relationship
- Set time for family and friends
- Learning basic life skills
- Mastering previous or new talents