Created by Darren Hutchings, June 2011
The benefits of using technology are presented in all aspects of society. From business to schools to home-use, computers are dominating our time and space. We are a technological society. As technology continues to develop, the time that we spend in front of a smaller and smaller screen continues to grow. Are we too connected? Do we have to turn on the cellphone, check our messages or update our Facebook, every minute? This Wiki contends that too much of technology is not always a good thing, as it investigates the idea of techaddiction.
Myth or Major Social Dilemma
There is an ongoing debate over the existence of an addiction to technology. Technology is only part of our normal society, so how can it be lead to an addiction? Technology is merely a tool at our disposal. We use it to make our lives easier. We need it in our classrooms, our offices and our homes. How can we become addicted to something so useful? Differing from Technology-related Anxietyin severity, many researchers argue that an addiction to the various forms of technology, such as the internet, or cellphones, is very much real. Tao et al.(2009)explains that in 1995 New york psychiatrist Ivan Goldbergfirst proposed that internet addiction may be considered a disease. Although done as a joke, the term quickly caught on. However, Flisher(2010) points out that internet addiction is not formally recognised as a clinical disorder by the WHO, nor the DSM-IV, despite increasing evidence that excessive internet use can interfer with daily life and work. However, researcher continues to built a strong case for internet addiction and techaddiction. Sanchez-Carbell et al.(2008) conclude that excessive use of the internet can lead to an addictive disorder, particularly with respect to chatting and online games. Moreover, the excessive internet use can help develope and maintain other addictions, like gambling and sex addictions. Dr. Jerome Block (2008) strongly believes that internet addiction merits inclusion in the DSM-V. In May 2013, the new DSM-V will be published and then we will see if techaddiction is finally officially recognized. Ironically, many countries already accept various forms of techaddiction as a major dilemma afflicting our tech-based society.
What is techaddiction?
Techaddiction or technology addiction refers to an addiction to various aspects of technology. According to the website http://www.choosehelp.com, this addiction “is a real compulsive-obsessive use disorder, similar in some ways to a gambling addiction.” It is not a substance addiction, like alcohol or tobacco. Techaddiction is a process addiction dealing more with the un-controllable desires (obsessions) and actions (compulsions) of the individual. For example, a techaddict obsesses over the internet, or texting. The s/he needs to go online, or needs to check messages, often creating problems in other aspects of his/her life. Techaddiction may not cover all the forms of technological use. In so much as a person may be addicted to his/her cell-phone or but not addicted to the Internet or Facebook. However, one form of technology may easily become a substitute for another.
Areas of techaddiction may include:
- Problematic Internet Use (PIU)
- Video Games Addiction
- Online Gambling
- Problematic texting and cellphone use
- Cybersex Addiction
- Cyber relationships
- Television Addiction
- Instant messaging (IM) addiction
Signs of techaddiction
According to Tao et al. (2009), the following are eight symptons of Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD):
- Preoccupation or strong desire to use the internet
- Withdrawal is followed by anxiety, irritability and boredom
- Tolerance refers to the need for more to achieve satisfaction
- Difficulty to control the desire, or discontinue use
- Disregard for the harmful consequences of continued use
- Social communications and interests are lost in lieu of time on the internet
- Alleviation of negative emotions by using the internet to escape
- Hiding use from friends and relatives through deception and dishonesty
Although these symptoms are stated for the internet, they hold true for all other aspects of technology, like cell-phones, video games, instant messenging and television. Other side-effects of the excessive use of technology include:
- Aching muscles, back strain, eye strain, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and headaches are often caused by poor posture and excessive use.
- Anxiety and depression result from attempts at withdrawal, and are often accompanied with guilt and shame.
- Hyperactivity and Inattention may be linked to excessive video gaming. Chan et al.(2006)discovered that adolescents who play more internet video games may have more or more intense symptoms of ADHD or inattention than those who don't play.
- Poor eating habits are a result of not wanting to leave technology to eat. For example, being online or playng the game is more important than supper or the player eats quickly to get back to the game.
- Poor sleeping habits develop from too much time online or playing, as the addict loses track of time.
- Over-weight and obesity result from too much watching and not enough exercise. Meier et al.(2007) explain that lowering the amounts of leisure based screen time yields an increase in physical activity in 5-12 year olds.
- Depression develops from the feeling of not being able to cope with the stresses of the addiction.
- Irritability follows when the techaddict is unable to get access to the technology.
- Impaired judgement occurs in many aspects of the addict's life. Jokingly rated as #5 in the top ten signs you are addicted to your Blackberry : You’ve learned to drive with your knees., this type of action truly is no joking matter. Texting while driving can lead to disastrous results. AT&T's Don't Text While You Drive is a very powerful documentary.
- Money problems often develop from an inablility to afford the technology. Addicts often use poor judgement when they lie and steal to manitain their level of technology.
- Relationships suffer when the techaddict may want to spend more time on-line, in neglect of friends and family.
- Withdrawal symptoms occur when the addict tries to control the excessive use of technology.
Statistics on techaddiction
The following statistics were taken from the website www.techaddiction.ca :
- 96 % of teenagers in China use IM (Instant Messaging) and 10% can be classified as IM addicts. (Huang et al., 2009)
- 15% of MMORPG players meet the criteria for Internet addiction. Less than 1% of the players surveyed indicated that they have sought professional help for Internet addiction.(Parsons, 2005)
- 11% of South Korean students are considered to be at risk of internet addiction.(Park et al., 2008)
- 7 % of Chinese elementary and middle school students suffer from internet addiction. The rate is higher in males (10%) than females (4%). The rate is higher for rural students(8%) than city students (5%).(Liu et al., 2010)
- 18% of British students were considered to be pathological internet users, whose excessive use of the internet was causing academic, social, and interpersonal problems. Students addicted to the internet were found to have lower self-esteem than other students. (Niemz et all, 2005)
- 68.9% of US residents are considered regular internet users, of which 13.7% find it hard to stay away from the internet for a few days; 8.7% conceal non-essential use from friends and family; and 5.9% relationships suffer as a result of excessive use.
Treatment for Techaddiction can include a variety of programs taylored to best meet each person's needs. If you feel yourself, or someone you know, has a life controlled by the use of technology, then it is recommended that you seek proper medical or professional advice.
As previously mentioned, many countries are taking a proactive stand on the treatment of techaddiction.
1) In China, the government restricted computer useat internet cafes because students spend too much time online.
2) The India Daily newspaper offers a few suggestions on how parents can encourage their children to log off :
- Introduce them to new activities that do not include the computer.
- Set a limit on the amount of hours they can spend on the internet a day.
- Most importantly, lead by example. If you limit the amount of time your child can spend on the computer, limit your time as well.
3) In Rome, a new clinic opens to treat internet addiction.
4) In the United States, The reSTART Internet Addiction Program offers treatment for various forms of techaddiction.
5) Documentaries serve to educate the population about the problem of techaddiction. CBC-TV's DocZone investigates our dependence on and the problematic use of technology, in Are We Digital Dummies?, while BBC's Panorama discusses the perils of video-game addiction.
6) Nature Deficit Disorder
The following short trailer is entitled Play Again. It follows a group of teens who are sent into nature away from their technological toys. The students were 'addicted' to various forms of technology. The purpose of this program is to rekindle a connection with nature. The Nature Deficit Disorder follows the premise of how can kids protect nature if they don't relate to it. If they reconnect with nature, then they may not use as much of their technology.
There lies an importance in understanding techaddiction from an educational perspective. In the classroom, technology is a great teaching tool. Students can use technology to build onto their knowledge base, in any subject area they please. Technology is easily adaptable, but also easily addictive. As educators, we also need to show students the whole picture and engage them in learning about technology, itself. As much as we preach the benefits of technology, we must also present any disadvantages of technological use. One concern should focus on not abusing or misusing technology. By educating students to the proper use of technology, we are making them more conscious digital citizens. Then they may perhaps pass along their knowledge to friends or family. As they grow into life-long learners, they become responsible adults, using, not misusing or abusing, technology.
Futhermore, it is important as educators to understand the signs or symmptons of techaddiction. This may give more insight into the background of a student. Some students may already exhibit problematic technolgy use, or have a parent who is addicted to facebook, online gambling, or another aspect of technology. By using this knowledge, a teacher can better understand the child, and perhaps better connect with him or her. If wanted, the teacher may also assist them in getting help for themselves or their family member.
This link will take you or your students to a 20 multiple choice test on Internet Addiction
For the interested teacher, please complete the following survey on technology addiction and mental health.
Stop-Motion video by BV Hill for ETEC 510-065C
Block, J.J. (2008). Issues for DSM-V: Internet Addiction, American Journal of Psychiatry, 165, 306-307. Retrieved from http://www.virtual-addiction.com/documents/InternetAddictionDSM-V.pdf.
Carotids. (2007, October 14). Debate: Health Problems Related to the Geek Lifestyle. Retrieved from http://www.tech-recipes.com/ rx/2639/debate_health_problems_related_geek_lifestyle/
Chan, P.A., & Rabinowitz, T. (2006). A Cross-sectional Analysis of Video games and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms in Adolescents. Annals of General Psychology, 2006, 5-16. Retrieved from :http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1635698/
Filmbee, (2010,April 25). Play Again[Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZ3J0szCGqk
Flisher, C. (2010). Getting plugged in: An overview of Internet addiction. Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health, 46(10), 557-559. Retrieved from http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&CSC=Y&NEWS=N&PAGE=fulltext&D=emed9&AN=2010625858
He, M., Piché, L., Beynon, C., & Harris, S. (2010). Screen-related Sedentary Behaviours: Children`s and Parent`s Attitudes, Motivations, and Practices. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 42(1), 17-25.
Internet Addiction Statistics- Facts, Figures & Numbers. (July, 201i). Retrieved from http://techaddiction.ca/internet_ addiction_statistics.html
Macdonald, A.M (2010, November 18). Are We Digital Dummies? Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/Shows/Doc_Zone/1242299559/ ID=1651031614
Meier, M.D., Hager, R.L., Vincent, S.D., Tucker, L.A., Vincent, W.J. (2007). The Effects of Leisure-Based Screen Time. American Journal of Health Education, 38(3), 139-146.
Moeller, S., Powers, E., & Roberts, J. (2012). The world unplugged and 24 hours without media: Media literacy to develop self-awareness regarding media. Comunicar, 20(39), 45-52.
Rome Hospital Opens Internet Addiction Treatment Center, Addiction Treatment Programs. Retrieved from http://www.addiction-treatment-programs.net/addiction-treatment/rome-hospital-opens-internet-addiction-treatment-center.html
Sanchez-Carbonell, X., Beranuy, M., Castellana, M., Chamarro, A., & Oberst, U. (2008). Internet and cell phone addiction: passing fad or disorder? Adicciones, 20(2), 149-159. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18551228.
Swing, E.L., Gentile, D.A., Anderson, C.A., Walsh, D.A. (2010). Television and Video Game Exposure and the Development of Attention Problems. Pediatrics. doi:10.1542/peds.2009-1508. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org /cgi/reprint/peds.2009-1508v1
Tao,R., Huang, X., Wng, J., Zhang, H., Zhzng, Y., Li, M. (2009). Proposed Diagnostic Criteria for Internet Addiction. Addiction. 105, 556–564. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02828.x/pdf
The India Daily News, (2011, February 25), Teens with Internet Addiction. Retrieved from http://www.theindiadaily.com/teens-with-internet-addiction/
Understanding Internet Addiction – Facts, Symptoms and Risks (March. 2008), Retrieved from http://www.choosehelp.com/internet-addiction/understanding-internet-addiction-facts-symptoms-and-risks.html
Vine, J. (2010, December). Video Game Addiction? Retrieved from http://www.netaddictionrecovery.com/the-problem/gaming-addiction/339-bbc-documentary-on-video-game-addiction.html
4) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FV3KYT3L5RM (Stop Motion)
5) Stop Motion on Tech Addiction by Rodney St-Pierre (May 2015)
6) Techaddiction Stop Motion by Jeffrey Tan (Jan 2017)