In a perfect world, technology is supposed to make life easier. Yet most of us have experienced the extreme stress of a computer crashing, no cell service when you need the phone, or having our favorite television show, that we’re streaming of course, interrupted by a poor Wi-Fi signal.
Add social media, texts, emails, selfies, work, school, family and friends to the mix, and you have the opposite of relaxation.
Even with all the stress that can come directly from these tech platforms, research has shown that the average American spends 2 hours and 57 minutes a day on their smartphones.
This does not include time spent on the computer either.
Other countries, such as China, South Korea and India, are taking this matter seriously by opening clinics aimed at treating patients for “technology addiction.”
Many of these clinics use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a treatment known to be effective in treating alcoholism and drug addiction.
While the West might scoff at the idea of Internet or smart-phone dependency, some experts suggest that the symptoms are similar to that of substance abuse and addiction.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), considered the “bible of psychiatry,” does not have a diagnosis of “internet addiction.”
However, it has included a condition in the most recent edition labeled “Internet gaming addiction,” thanks to psychiatrists, like Dr. Kimberley Young, who campaigned the American Psychiatric Association to include the disorder.
In an interview, Dr. Young said, “We have been lagging behind other countries. I think U.S. culture is conservative. The problem is real, but how countries will choose to address it will vary.”
What are 5 Signs You Might be Addicted to Your Phone?
1. Morning Panic
In the morning, you wake up in a panic after realizing you forgot to recharge your phone overnight.
2. Social Checking
You check your go-to social network (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) religiously, like every 47 seconds.
3. Bathroom Breaks
After you sit down in the bathroom, you freak out because you realize you didn’t bring your phone in with you.
4. Phone Number Memory Loss
You’ve forgotten every telephone number you’ve ever known, except your grandma’s.
5. Good Night Texting
Instead of tucking your kids in at bedtime, you text them goodnight. Whether it’s because of laziness or convenience, it might signal a problem.
China, which has more than 300 Internet addiction centers, is also running a campaign called “Phone Wall.” Ads address what officials feel is a growing public crisis, how smart phone addiction can interfere with family life and relationships.
Paid for by the Center For Psychological Research, Shenyang, a government agency, the campaign is receiving worldwide attention.
Ruggi Ramakrishnan, the executive creative director for Ogilvy & Mather Shanghai, the agency responsible for designing the ads, told the Huffington Post, “Pulling out a phone during a conversation is like erecting a brick wall between two people. We want people to see this and rethink their relationships with others and their phone in a different light.”
If your smartphone is creating more problems than solutions, experts suggest finding ways to unplug several times a day.
For instance, turning your phone off while you sleep will prevent unwanted “push” notifications, like email or texts, that can wake you up in the middle of the night.
Stepping back from technology is not always that simple, but offering our full attention to matters outside of our phones is ultimately far more fulfilling.