When one thinks of the word “addiction”, it is easy to think of the image of a very physically tired person, who has been completely consumed by drugs, and who abuses his body so as not to fall into abstinence.
It is one of the most widespread stereotypes about this type of pathology, generally associated with the idea of social marginality; and while it is true that most drug addicts have few resources and base their dependence on the use of psychoactive substances, this hides many nuances.
For example, not all drug addiction disorders have to do with the introduction of a substance into the body itself, whether it is alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or whatever. other having the power to generate addiction. There are behavioral addictions, and in part it’s common not to see them as a problem precisely because they don’t involve drug use. Addiction to new technologies is one example, and in this article, we’ll see why it’s a bad idea to underestimate it..
What is the dependence on new technologies?
The term “new technologies” is very broad and its boundaries are blurred. Pretty much anything around us could be termed this way, given that even a fireplace with logs inside is an example of technology.
This is why we have to be more precise: in practice, when we talk about addictions to new technologies we are referring to the behavioral patterns that reveal a dependence on digital and shielded electronics. These are usually computers (whether PCs, tablets or laptops) and smartphones. These products are characterized by being a source of very varied visual and auditory stimuli, on the one hand, and being connected to the Internet in most cases.
But it’s not these devices themselves that can be overused, but what is happening in the digital world to which they provide access. In this sense, dependence on new technologies mainly materializes in two types of addictive behavior: constant use of social media and abuse of online video games.
The two main poles of dependence on new technologies
These are the characteristics of each sub-type of addiction to new technologies.
Social media addiction
Social networks are designed to expose their users to a constant torrent of content potentially of interest to each individual, as these digital platforms have all the information needed to personalize what is displayed on the screen. Additionally, it promotes a phenomenon known as FOMO: fear of missing out, or anxiety about losing content that others enjoy and share.
Online video game addiction
Again, the mere use of video games is not a problem in itself: electronic entertainment is a perfectly legitimate form of entertainment and culture; But, sometimes a bad use of these resources leads to psychological alterations.
In online video game addiction, it not only becomes a person’s primary form of leisure, but even changes the time they would normally spend on their responsibilities or rest and care for their body and mind. It is a phenomenon that mainly affects the young population, especially men, but can occur in any type of person who frequently uses video games.
While there are also instances of video game addiction that are played in single player mode, in recent years, the most common is that those who problematically “get addicted” to these games use the online mode to compete with people all over the world.; The mechanisms of competition are particularly absorbing and can even become the main means of socialization of many young people.
How are these issues reflected?
As we have seen, addiction to new technologies does not translate into problematic behaviors that are easy to detect. Just as drug use is easily recognizable as such, it is more uncertain when the use of a digital resource becomes problematic. however, these psychological alterations are likely to cause significant problems. The following stand out:
- Hostility and irritability when you take “too many” minutes or hours without access to your computer or smartphone.
- Poor management of sleep schedules due to the use of these digital platforms.
- Using these technologies takes up most of your free time.
- The use of these devices limits the social life of the person, avoiding face to face interactions.
- Concentration problems (the person is thinking about things related to video games or social media).
Fortunately, these types of problems can be overcome and treated effectively with psychotherapy.
Are you looking for professional psychological assistance services?
If you wish to have the help of a psychologist to support you in the face of a form of addiction or in raising a child, contact me. I am a psychologist specializing in the cognitive-behavioral model, which aims to enable people to develop new ways of dealing with emotions, to interpret reality in a more constructive way and to adapt better to the environment thanks to the adoption of new habits. I attend both my consultation in person in Madrid and online via video call.
- American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- Freeman, CB (2008). Internet gambling addiction treatments. The Journal of Nurse Practitioners. pages 42 to 47.
- Pantic, I. (2014). Online social media and mental health. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 17 (10), 652-657.
- Van Rooij, AJ; Shoemakers, TM; Vermulst, AA; Van den Eijnden, RJ; Van de Mheen, D. (2010). Online Video Game Addiction: Identifying Addicted Teen Gamers Addiction. 106 (1): p. 205-212.