Technology addiction: what it is, causes, symptoms, consequences, and treatment


In this in-depth article, we will learn what technology addiction is, its causes, symptoms, consequences and treatments. Enjoy your reading.

Table of contents

The use of technology today represents an enormous communicative, creative and educational potential, however, its excessive use can carry risks and consequences, leading the person to an addiction to technology.

Addiction can affect any age, however, adolescents are especially vulnerable to it, because the new generations are born with digital media, forming part of their day-to-day life and their development, being their main source of information, socialization, and communication.

Therefore, it is necessary to know the possible risks and consequences of its excessive use, in order to prevent and treat addiction as quickly as possible.

Within technology addiction, we can find addiction to video games, the Internet, social networks, nomophobia, etc.

If you are interested in learning more about how technology addiction is treated, keep reading this article where I will explain technology addiction: what it is, its causes, symptoms, consequences, and treatment.

Technology addiction: what is it?

When we think of addiction, we relate the concept to the consumption of a harmful substance that entails generating tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal, which arise from the person's need to take that substance in order to face a new day, thus stopping the feelings of emotional and/or physical discomfort.

When I talk about addiction to technology, I try to adapt these terms to the concept of technology, since the technological instruments they lead to are the loss of control of the person's behavior, where they try to alleviate their emotional discomfort through technologies in a systematic way, turning them into a refuge and generating the need to access them in the face of discomfort.

To be considered an addictive behavior, the loss of control of the behavior must be present, on which the person can not do without an element that generates dependence (social networks, Internet, video games, ...), generating a dependence on the behavior.

Elements causing feelings of anxiety, irritability, depression and despair when you can not use them, appear in it the concept of withdrawal and needing more and more time in its use, thus increasing its tolerance.

Use of technology today

In recent decades, a great advance has been made in ICTs, information, and communication technologies.

There has been an exponential growth of these, increasing the diversity and specificity of the different devices and their uses, adding ease of access to them.

These advances have allowed many benefits in our society, however, they have required an adaptation of our daily habits, which there must be an adaptation, which is not always healthy because bad habits can be generated in the use of technology in currently, being able to reach a behavioral addiction towards them.

So, the diversity and specialization that they have achieved, as well as the possibility of accessing them from anywhere, have become the most triggering risk factors for their addiction.

Technology addiction is a very broad term. For this reason, I will explain some types of addiction to technology, the most common, for example, addiction to video games, the Internet, social networks, and nomophobia.

1. Video game addiction

Video game addiction has now been accepted by the WHO (World Health Organization) as a disease.

This is recognized as a non-toxic addiction, which is part of behavioral addictions, in which a behavior that cannot be controlled is established. The person generates a very intense dependence on the video game, where he loses track of time, losing control of the duration and frequency in which they play.

Faced with this, when the person cannot play, anxious feelings, stress, and alterations in eating and sleeping behavior may appear. Video games become the refuge of these people, seeking alternate realities, thus causing certain social isolation and a loss of personal relationships.

2. Internet addiction

When we talk about addiction to Internet shopping, addiction to Internet sex, or online gambling, we are talking about independent addictions that use the Internet as a means of accessing the addictive element more immediately and anonymously.

Internet addiction is not the Internet itself, but what they are looking for through it. However, there are people who generate a dependency on the concept of the Internet in general, due to the inexhaustible number of ways to communicate and the new possibilities offered by the Internet every day.

The Internet is an instrument for interaction, work, information, and leisure,... which can bring many advantages, however, people with Internet addiction remain absorbed in the network, changing their external reality for the virtual one.

Against this, an abusive behavioral pattern of Internet use is established, thus abandoning the activities that the person used to like, the search for information from other methods, personal relationships, and neglecting the different obligations and responsibilities.

The great diversity that the Internet offers (being able to listen to music, watch videos, search for information, visit social networks, download movies,...) is what generates their dependence since it can satisfy any need that the person has.

3. Social media addiction

At present, social media have changed the way of communication between people. Each person uses social networks for different purposes such as talking with friends, meeting new people, spreading news, promoting a job, etc. Through correct use, they can contribute to a large number of advantages.

However, more and more social networks are being used to create false identities, showing what you think will be well seen by others, seeking constant approval.

Over time, the need for validation from others can lead to serious self-esteem problems as the person becomes dependent on the opinions of others. For this reason, addiction to social networks has been on many occasions related to a low concept of oneself, which is tried to supplant with changes in one's own identity shown on the network.

In this addiction, the addictive component is based on the speed of response, the immediate reward, and the interactivity that social networks compromise, which causes a distance from real life, problems in self-esteem, difficulty in control, and appearance of anxiety when they cannot be used.

4. Nomophobia

The term nomophobia comes from "no-mobile-phone-phobia". The meaning of nomophobia refers to the anxiety that the person suffers when they cannot have their mobile phone, invading feelings of isolation, either because they have run out of battery, they have left their mobile at home, it has broken, etc...

So we are talking about a dependency on the mobile phone that has been related to a phobia due to the intense anxious and obsessive feelings that arise in the absence of the device and that disappear when the person has the phone again.

Technology Addiction: Symptoms

Symptoms of technology addiction categorized as physical symptoms are as follows:

  • eye strain
  • Hearing loss
  • Back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • phantom vibration
  • De Quervain's syndrome
  • teenage insomnia
  • exclusive dependency
  • thumb rhizarthosis
  • infertility
  • Childhood and juvenile obesity

On the other hand, the symptoms of psychological addiction to technology are the following:

  • Isolation
  • Altered and compulsive behavior
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Communication problems
  • language impoverishment
  • Sensitivity to comments of judgments and evaluations of others
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor school performance
  • Depression

Technology addiction: causes

The origin of technology addiction tends to be similar to the beginning of substance use. Faced with emotional and physical discomfort, the person seeks refuge in technology to alleviate different situations such as painful events, social anxiety, vital moments of stress, problems within the family, and self-esteem problems,...

In the face of this set of problems, the person seeks new technologies a new reality on the screen. This process is normalized because it is very different in the eyes of the population to seek refuge in a toxic substance, then in a distraction such as a video game, which at first instance is not harmful to our health.

Added to all this are the immediate accessibility, the lack of limits, and the gratification of immediate rewards, such as “likes” on social networks, which leads to the development of addictive behavior.

Technology addiction: consequences

The consequences derived from the abuse of new technologies can be very diverse, depending on physical and psychological symptoms, as we have seen previously.

The consequences of technology addiction can range from health problems such as obesity to psychological problems such as reaching depression.

However, one of the main repercussions of addictions to technology is the social isolation that they produce and the absorption in a fictitious reality, which, although it allows establishing interactions, becomes colder and more distant, and can generate great feelings of loneliness and depression.

Technology addiction: Treatment

The cornerstone of addiction treatment is the understanding that the problem is not the object of the addiction, whether it is social networks or a substance, but the person.

Faced with this, the treatment must be adapted to each person and can be carried out both individually and in groups, with sessions that last between 12 and 16 months.

The treatment of technology addiction should cover all areas of the person, taking into account the family, their social, work, or academic environment, and their personal sphere.

In personal work, it is important to work through a process of psychotherapy aspects such as self-esteem, self-acceptance, improvement in social skills, and conflict resolution.

In relation to the family, it is of utmost importance that there is a collaboration of this, although the family involvement will be different depending on each case. In general, family responsibilities tend to be redistributed, work on communication and trust between the different family members, establish control and limits regarding the use of the object of addiction, and strategies are proposed to be used in conflict resolution.

When dealing with addictions that tend to appear in adolescence or youth, the environment of friends is very important, given its influence.

The problem is that many friendships are established through the Internet, which can lead the person to enter risk-inducing social groups.

These online groups could hamper the development of technology addiction treatment, so control over this should be established. It is important for the person to recover contact with previous friendships or establish new ones, which represent support for them.

In relation to the addictive object, a set of phases must be carried out. In the first place, as happens in addiction to toxic substances, a period of "abstinence" must occur, that is, the person stops making full use of the object that generates the addiction. Later, he will be able to use it against the control of another person, until he finally learns to make controlled use of it.

Bottom line

How to prevent technology addiction? For this, it is important to carry out a psychoeducational process where the person understands that they are necessary instruments in our society, but that they must be used in an appropriate way and teach them to make good use of them.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative, I have no authority to make a diagnosis or recommend treatment. I invite you to visit a psychologist to treat your particular case.