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Addicted to the screen

The dangers of technology in today's society

Photo by Grace McGuire

Photo by Grace McGuire

Story by Emma Anderson, staff writer

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In recent years, the use of technology has increased. Multiple innovations and new features added to different devices have helped contribute to the phenomenon called Technology Addiction or Internet Use Disorder (IUD).

Similar to other addictions, the overuse of technology can also range from moderate to severe. Some researchers have found that some people experience a “high” while on their phones or online and feel withdrawal when not able to use them. Symptoms of Internet addiction are compulsive checking of text messages, frequently uploading to social media like selfies, a feeling of euphoria whilst on the web, social withdrawal and loss of interest in activities that don’t include technology.  Other possible symptoms is increased stress, sleep disorders and depression.

Technology fulfills our need for interaction and stimulation. Technology affects the pleasure systems in out brain because it provides some sort of reward like escapes from reality, a way to entertain oneself and a way to interact with others. One aspect of technology that attracts users to the internet is called FOMO “Fear Of Missing Out.” FOMO is a phenomenon common in teens and young adults where these people feel the need to stay connected, so that they are informed with everything that is going on.

Along with the internet, video games are highly addictive because some of the games make players feel like they are achieving something and that they are successful. Some games allow players to accumulate money and feel success that they may not feel in their actual lives. Video games can also allow some players to assume new identities and personalities that make them feel powerful. Video games often provide an escape from reality and the monotony of their everyday lives.

Damage to brain systems that connect emotional processing, attention and decision making are affected in technology addicts and substance addicts. In this way, substance addiction is as dangerous as technology addiction.”

— Emma Anderson

Smartphones allow for people to access the internet, games and mostly social media such as Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube and Facebook. These platforms allow for interaction between users without having to meet face-to-face. Using these apps, people can talk and interact with people who live far away. As people, we all need human interaction and social media helps to fulfill that need. Everyday there are 500 million tweets, 70 million pictures uploaded to Instagram and 300 hours of footage per minute on Youtube.

While not all technology is negative, the risks to IAD are. Brain scans of people with IAD were similar with those of people who were addicted to substances like cannabis, alcohol and cocaine. Damage to brain systems that connect emotional processing, attention and decision making are affected in technology addicts and substance addicts. In this way, substance addiction is as dangerous as technology addiction.

Along with brain damage, sleep disorders can develop. People who are addicted to technology have trouble turning off their phones and this includes at night. Instead of sleeping, people will stay on their phones and develop a pattern of inconsistent sleep and may in turn develop a sleep disorder. The effects of this are often declining athletic, social and academic performance. Along with sleep, a possible effect is weight gain due to the sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet which may lead to cardiovascular problems.  

Overall, technology is helpful and has many advantages, but can also be harmful and addictive. We should all be careful about how much we use and depend on technology.

 

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