What Is Technology Addiction?
Technology and the internet have become an integral part of everyday life and are finding their way into more and more daily habits. Most behavioral health and addiction specialists agree that young adults are spending close to six hours a day on a computer, smartphone, or tablet.
Internet technology utilizes user-experience guidelines that make it easy to find the information, content, or entertainment desired within seconds. While these practices are helpful from a convenience standpoint, they can have unintended consequences in three ways:
- Each time that a smartphone, tablet, or computer provides particular information, there is a small dose of dopamine delivered to the brain. Over time, the brain can become accustomed to these dopamine drips that internet and technology use provides. Individuals will find themselves feeling bored, uninterested, or unmotivated to do anything that doesn’t involve their screen device. This is similar to other addictions including gambling and substance abuse.
- The faster a person clicks on something they like or want online and the quicker it shows up on their screen the more potent and powerful that addiction response becomes.
- In this way, internet and technology function similar to a slot machine where someone never knows what they are going to get, when they are going to get it, and how desirable the content will be for them. That variability makes the internet experience potentially more addictive in that the rewards (small elevations of dopamine) are unpredictable and changeable.
The brain doesn’t care what activity, behavior, or substance is delivering the dose of dopamine, it just knows that it’s desirable. People don’t become addicted to technology, but rather the feelings or fulfillment that it provides on a neurobiological level. Lifeskills focuses our program around retraining the brain to redevelop getting fulfillment out of new real-time activities instead of just from the internet and technology. With help, clients learn to use technology in a healthier and more balanced manner to reengage in their daily lives.