You CAN live a SOBER LIFE again - CALL NOW for treatment options

Reality of Internet and Technology Addiction Grows


Internet addiction and technology addiction are terms used to describe behaviors that revolve around spending inordinate amounts of time accessing the internet via digital devices like cell phones, laptops, tablets, or computers. These terms also include obsessive involvement with social media sites and apps, texting, and email to the extent that they interfere with quality of life and relationships.

Although the terms internet addiction and technology addiction are used frequently, neither the APA nor the DSM-5 recognize internet or technology abuse as addictions at this time. Instead they are considered disorders or “conditions for further study”. Proving whether or not certain obsessive behaviors associated with internet, digital media, and technology use are destructive enough to the brain, relationships, and other aspects of life to be categorized as an addiction will continue to be a debated and researched topic.

Social Media

Although social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat are sites that most people access for fun, some individuals feel compelled to visit them excessively. For these, this extreme use of social media can create and reinforce harmful habits and the distortion of reality. Some individuals skip important activities or real-life social functions because engagement on social media commands their attention. This obsession with social and digital media typically lead to an overall decrease in quality of life, self-perception, and connection.

Some people are captivated with “following” a particular individual or personality on social media sites, whether for positive or negative reasons. This type of obsessive preoccupation combined with easy internet access can drive an individual to religiously check up on the other person’s social activity, regardless of where the individual is or what they are doing.

Obsession with Technological Advancements

There is evidence that keeping up with newly released technological advancements may also be addicting. For example, a person may feel compelled to purchase a new computer, iPhone, video game, or iPad the moment it hits the market. While such devices can make life easier and add excitement, those who consistently overspend or go into debt, in order to buy the newest electronic devices, are exhibiting addictive behavior.

Cell Phone and Smartphone Dependency

Adults and now teenagers are becoming increasingly dependent on their cell phones, even when they don’t need to be. There are individuals who find it difficult to go anywhere or do anything without using their cell phone. It is no secret that such behavior has led to frustrated relationships, increasingly distracted individuals, and multiple car accidents and fatalities over the past ten years.

Here are some stats from a 2012 study done on smartphone owners by the PEW Research Center:

  • 67% find themselves checking their phone for calls, alerts, or messages, even if they did not hear their phone ring or vibrate; 18% say they do this “frequently”
  • 44% sleep with their phone by their bed to ensure they don’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night.
  • 29% describe their cell phone as “something they can’t imagine living without”.

In a 2015 report by the Pew Research Center, this statistic went up by 59%, with 46% of those surveyed saying they can’t imagine living without their cell phone compared to the 29% in 2012.

Smartphones frequently inspire their owners to feel “productive” and “happy” — but can also lead to distraction and frustration…Young users are particularly likely to use a smartphone to avoid boredom — and ignore other people.
Pew Research Center

Internet Addiction or Internet Compulsive Disorder

Some researchers consider abnormally heavy use of the internet as nothing more than the latest form of “Internet Compulsive Disorder,” a phrase coined in the 1990s when the internet was gaining popularity at an extraordinary pace. As far back as 1992, scientists theorized that the excessive use of the internet could impair school or work performance and affect interpersonal relationships in a manner similar to the use of illicit drugs.

Dr. David Greenfield, founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction (CITA) and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, says that this phenomenon of feeling compelled or obsessed with checking emails, texts, and social media, is all related to a neurochemical in our brains called dopamine.

Dopamine is responsible for generating the pleasure experience in the midbrain. Dr. Greenfield says that “We get a little squirt of it every time we get positive news from a friend or loved one by text, email or social media. Our brain is conditioned to seek that positive ‘hit’, leading many of us to check for messages compulsively.”

Abnormal Obsession with Internet and Technology

Obsessively checking and responding to emails and texts is a form of internet and technology addiction. It is ok to desire engagement and interaction with friends and family through technology but it becomes abnormal when someone feels internally compelled or anxious about the need to send emails or to check text messages while driving, sleeping, or engaging in other activities.

Similarly, if a person has difficulties leave his or her computer or digital device to participate in everyday activities like schoolwork or social obligations, that person is likely displaying addictive tendencies. Also of concern are those who consistently choose and prefer to socialize with online “friends” and virtual realities over real world friends and realities.

Treatment for Internet and Technology Addiction

Those who find that cyber activities are encroaching upon real life and relationships should immediately set limits for themselves and try to adhere to them as best as possible. Additionally, frequent and self-imposed periods of time that are unplugged from all electronic devices should be put in place.

As with other addictions, disorders, or obsessions, it is helpful to have someone that will check up on the progress toward decreasing internet and technology use. This person should be someone that is respectful and compassionate. The new found time can be used to interact with family, friends, or coworkers, play with pets, participate in a physical activity, or just interact with reality. Those who suspect they have a serious internet or technology disorder should seek treatment from a qualified professional.

Are you or someone you love suffering from technology or internet addiction? Call our addiction advisors for help and guidance: 1-800-259-1361


Related Articles

Coping with Internet Addiction in Your Family I have studied Internet addiction since 1995 and it has become a serious issue. Based on 20 years of research, we now know how to screen and treat Internet addiction. In Asian cultures such as Korea o...
Learning to Live a Normal Life After Recovery Most people would like to think that completing a professional treatment program at a facility is an instant cure for their addiction. However, life after the initial recovery program can be challengi...
Addicted to Love: The Do’s and Don’ts of Loving an Addict Step right up, folks! It’s the scariest coaster in the park. Enter if you dare. And mark my words--by the time it’s over, you won’t know up from down! You are in love with an addict and, as a resul...
Inpatient or Outpatient Addiction Treatment If you are suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, you may have considered or been suggested by a loved one or medical professional to seek professional addiction treatment help. There are many ad...
5 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Addiction Treatment Drug addiction treatment can get expensive, and at times, may even seem impossible to cover. In fact, addiction treatment costs can be about $135 per day for outpatient treatment and more than $700 pe...
Yankees’ CC Sabathia Opens Up About Alcohol Rehab Yankee’s pitcher CC Sabathia recently opened up about seeking treatment at an alcohol rehab center in an exclusive interview with ABC’s Good Morning America. The interview Friday broke his silence ...
Why Are Some People More Susceptible to Addiction than Others? Researchers in the field of substance abuse have discovered that specific risk factors make certain individuals more susceptible to addiction than others. These factors know no boundaries regarding ge...
Break Through Denial and Begin the Journey to Clarity So many of us that struggle with alcohol or drug abuse spend years tangled in the web of denial. It’s easy to fixate on the semantics of the diagnostic world--clinging to the definitions that don’t qu...
Athlete Substance Addiction and Abuse For a high school student, having athletic skill and a talent for competitive sports can be thrilling and can potentially lead to a free college education through an athletic scholarship. For a colleg...
10 Best Movies About Drug Addiction When you’re in recovery from or drug addiction, you want to feed your soul things that nourish and inspire you. A great way to be encouraged in your recovery and be entertained at the same time is to ...
Naltrexone May Also Help Cure Sex Addiction Is there really a drug that could cure sex addiction? According to several studies, naltrexone, a long-acting opioid antagonist that is most commonly used in the treatment of alcohol addiction, and mo...
Top 10 Recovery Books “Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know.” ― Alberto Manguel Sobriety-based literature runs the gamut from memoirs and...