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What is Technology Addiction? - Definition & Signs

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  • 0:04 The Problem Begins
  • 0:59 What Is Technology Addiction?
  • 3:39 Symptoms and Warning Signs
  • 4:31 Treating Technology Addiction
  • 5:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

This lesson will discuss technology addiction, define what constitutes technology addiction, and provide insight into the warning signs. Information on treating technology addiction will also be reviewed.

The Problem Begins

It's summer vacation, and your usually active 17-year-old daughter, whom you had to drag inside all summer last year, hardly comes out of her room. You notice all she seems to do is use the internet, text on her phone, and play video games. She ignores her friend's requests to join them at the beach and barely talks to you. When she eats a meal, she's on her phone the entire time and even sends text messages to you from a room away.

The last time you took her electronics away to encourage her to get involved with outside activities, she became withdrawn and seemed depressed. You wonder if this is normal teenage behavior or something more serious.

Your daughter might be showing signs of a recently identified condition called technology addiction, which some medical professionals claim may be more difficult to treat than drug addictions. Let's learn more out more about technology addiction, the warning signs, and how technology addiction can be treated.

What Is Technology Addiction?

Technology addiction is a broad term that refers to the uncontrollable urge to use technological devices such as computers, smartphones, and gaming systems. Technology addiction appears to be more prevalent among teenagers, but is found amongst the broader population as well. According to the International Journal of Neuropsychiatric Medicine, as many as one in eight Americans suffers from some type of technology addiction.

Technology addiction is a recently identified addiction that has not yet been medically classified but has been linked to the widespread and rapid evolvement and use of technological devices. What actually causes technology addiction is not all that well understood. Researchers claim it may be a combination of inherent genetic traits and elements in the environment. These three factors have been identified as possible underlying causes of technology addiction:

  1. State of an individual's mental health
  2. Personality traits
  3. Environmental factors

In other words, technology abusers are likely to have underlying health issues such as anxiety, insomnia, and depression. They also appear to have tendencies towards impulsiveness. They are also individuals who tend to keep to themselves and shy away from social contact with others, so they tend to find the online and technological environment more welcoming to connect with others in a way where social contact is limited. These individuals are also more prone to technology addiction because they tend to use technology on an ongoing basis to fulfill their social needs. Individuals who experience high levels of stress in their daily environments, for example at work or school, are more prone to utilize technological devices to relieve stress and distract them from their current situations.

In addition to the causes of technology addiction, there are also risk factors that have been identified that can make an individual more prone to developing technology addiction. Some of these include:

Gender

Although both males and females are at risk of developing technology addictions, men are more prone to online gambling, pornography, and gaming addictions, whereas women are more vulnerable to online shopping, social media, and texting addictions.

Pre-existing specified mental health issues

Individuals who have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) appear to be at a higher risk for developing technology addictions.

Pre-existing addictions

People who already suffer from another addiction, particularly drug, alcohol, nicotine, or sex addictions, tend to be more prone to developing technology addictions.

Symptoms and Warning Signs

Now that causes and risk factors of technology addiction have been defined, let's review some of the symptoms and warning signs that can alert someone to suspect a technology addiction. There are two primary categories of symptoms and warning signs: behavioral and physical.

Some of the behavioral symptoms that someone with a technology addiction might display include:

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