It is most definitely an addiction. As a parent of a teen, and a psychologist, I have been struggling to find a healthier way to integrate it into our lives. Every dm, every ‘like’, increases dopamine, and decreases patience and persistence. At best, communication and attention is reduced, and longer written work becomes laborious and uncreative. At worst, the ‘type it as you feel it’ catapults dramatic teen social interactions into intense bullying and suicidal ideation. Withdrawal occurs with irritability, moodiness, “boredom”, struggles to tolerate less immediate stimuli. Etc. Changing social norms are hard to do with constant steady hits of dopamine.
It’s always going to be less threatening/easier to put our best face digitally forward than making the effort to physically connect, as humans have evolved to socialize in this way.
It’s an addiction that is a social norm.
I’m not sure what’s more frightening, normalizing the addiction as your article does, or the disregard big tech will have in strategizing consumer attention *outside of ongoing dopamine inducing swipes.
There will be no resolving this IMHO, just aware or unaware members of society. Free of useless tech addiction, or enslaved. The implications are obvious and self evident, and reported in the article.
That many millions are alcoholics and drink socially at parties or bars does not mean it is not an addiction
Fact is, it IS an addiction that has become socially acceptable by the majority, like smoking was in the 60’s and 70’s- very dangerous and unhealthy. Walk through a university campus, and observe not one person (walking or driving) is paying attention with eyes forward, to watch where they’re headed. I’m a prof in ed psych, and addressing this issue on campus is an urgent priority. Two student pedestrians have been killed due to walking directly into oncoming
traffic – sadly, video of one incident showed the individual failed to look up from their screen long enough to realize they were entering the roadway. Warning signs and vocal “STOP” lights have proved useless, as the students are so engrossed in thumb-typing, they ignore their surroundings. Long-term damage to the developing child’s brain is real. It is a health crisis for us all.
Hi Dr. Ellis,
I’m so glad you mentioned college students because that is where I started my work with Mindhood.com. At Dartmouth College I ran a pilot last summer to create more mindful college communities through the intentional use of technology, face to face interactions, and mindfulness. Here is an article about that work. http://dartreview.com/mindhood-comes-to-dartmouth/
I’ve expanded to middle and high schools students, and hope to inspire college students to become role models for younger students. We started a podcast, lookuppodcast.com and are forming the 501c3 Look Up to inspire youth to find balance between their real lives and their technology. Step one is: “Look Up!”
I’d love to communicate further with you. I’m at email@example.com
In important factor of the Saudi study,I feel,if that the country is a patriarchial dictatorship that routinely kills and tortures. So that surely would be part of a man’s thinking in regard to giving his wife more rights.
I published the last response without my last name, and I’d love to connect with others about this issue.
While I understand the premise of social norming, I believe your comments missed the point that the use of technology today parallels exactly the DSM criteria for substance use disorder, with the exception of the substance. All of the criteria would be met for technology used to meet the DSM criteria. Addiction is not an individual disease but affects individuals on a biopsychosocial level. Entire families are disintegrating due to the over reliance on technology for communication. Individuals are obsessing over it’s use, it’s interfering with their lives, they experience periods of withdrawal and are severely impacted. While I also struggle with using the term addiction, It certainly appears that there is a serious dependence which is having devastating effects on individuals, families and our entire society. While this does describe changes and social norms and also parallels the issues were dealing currently with opiates and other substances creating dependence. I parallel this in my book, Turned On and Tuned Out: a Guide to Understanding and Managing Tech Dependence.
I 100% agree that digital addiction/tech dependence is a real problem. What I like about Arunas’ article is it offers an additional reason for teens 24/7 connectivity, and another way out. How can we galvanize youth to see the power of shifting social norms, and then how can we help them do that? I’m a co-founder and the Educational Liaison of the DigitalWellnessCollective.com and there are so many companies/soloproneurs/authors working on this problem. I’m excited to hear about your book because my next step is Amazon to buy it. I work with teens and college students, and they have solutions we haven’t thought of. I hadn’t thought about social norms, so the next question is how do we empower youth to begin to shift the social norms, while also looking up from their phones and living in real life, especially in this dopamine driven digital culture?
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