Technophobia (fear of technology): causes, symptoms and treatment

New technologies have burst into our lives, computers, tablets or smartphones allow us to be connected to the digital world 24 hours a day. This has resulted in our way of relating to others and to the environment and in many cases this has had a positive influence on our quality of life, as they facilitate better access to information and offer us new professional and leisure opportunities.

No one can doubt the benefits of new technologies; however, all is not rosy and the experts take the time to warn us of the risks of its misuse. Nomophobia, FOMO syndrome or techno-stress are some examples.

Today we are going to talk about another disorder associated with technological advancements, is technophobia, whichand is characterized either by aversion or by an irrational fear of new technologies and the digital world.

What is technophobia

Technophobia is a complex concept and there isn’t a lot of research on it. On the one hand, there seem to be varying degrees, and according to one of the first researchers to study the phenomenon in 30 years, Larry Rosen, a psychologist at the University of California, seems to have three categories of technophobic subjects:

  • Uncomfortable technophobes: These are the people who do not master new technologies, use them but are not comfortable doing it.
  • Cognitive technophobes: They use them but with fear, because they feel that they are not fully capable.
  • Anxious technophobes: It is considered pathological and the person experiences an irrational fear towards the use of new technologies.

Therefore, the symptoms of technophobia range from the feeling of discomfort and insecurity to the pathological extreme, that of feeling great anxiety when the person is in contact with new technologies.

This term first appeared in the book by American psychiatrist Craig Brod entitled “Technostress: The Human Cost of the Computer Revolution”, which was published in 1984. For the author, techno-stress is a disease of adaptation which has its origin in the high capacity to cope with new computer technologies in a healthy way “.

    The causes of this phenomenon

    The causes of technophobia can be varied, as can its manifestations. In less serious cases, the origin can be found in the individual’s perception of mastering technological devices, a particular insecurity that prevents him from adapting to technological change. One could imagine, for example, the manager of a company unable to adapt to new technologies, because he thinks that he will not be able to use them, even if this benefits remarkably from the good functioning of his company. Or the guy who doesn’t want to update his cell phone because he doesn’t know how to use smartphones.

    Indeed, studies suggest that from the age of 40, adults have more difficulty getting used to the use of computers and other technological gadgets, one of the causes, according to research, could be the fear of the unknown. In other words, and as Rosa Farah, from the Center for Research in Computer Psychology of PUC-SP (Sao Paulo), said, “it is not the technological devices that are scary, but to show their own inability to use the computer. machine “.

    however, technophobia in extreme cases can be a phobic disorder and therefore can result from a traumatic event from the past, due to the classic conditioning process. Some experts also call this irrational fear cyberphobia. Phobic disorders can also be learned by observation, through a phenomenon known as “vicarious conditioning”.

    Symptoms of fear of technology

    As explained throughout the article, there are different manifestations of this phenomenon, so the intensity of symptoms can vary from individual to individual. However, Symptoms of technophobia appear when using technological devices or anything related to new technologies, And the most characteristic are:

    • Feelings of fear and, in extreme cases, panic.
    • Anxiety and distress.
    • Palpitations.
    • Restlessness.
    • Sweat.
    • Difficulty breathing and suffocation.
    • Tremors.
    • Lack of concentration.
    • Avoidance of the feared stimulus.

    Treatment of this phobia

    As the severity of the phenomenon can vary, he can often overcome this fear by training the individual in the handling of new technologies, by encouraging him to take short courses and by showing that he can learn to manage new technologies, so useful today.

    however, in severe cases, psychological help may be necessary. Psychotherapy is very effective as shown by a lot of research, and cognitive behavioral therapy is generally used, which employs different techniques.

    For the treatment of phobias, the most used are relaxation techniques and exposure techniques. However, the most used is the one that uses both: it is systematic desensitization. With this type of treatment, the patient learns different coping skills and is exposed to fear in a systematic and progressive way, that is, he faces the feared stimulus while learning to control the physical and mental reactions. characteristics of his phobia.

    But this form of treatment is not the only one that has been shown to be effective for these types of disorders, but mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy are also helpful.

    Both belong to a group of so-called third generation behavioral psychotherapies.

    • In our article “What are third generation therapies?” we tell you.

    Types of phobias

    Phobias are relatively common anxiety disorders and a large part of the population suffers from them in the presence of different stimuli: spiders, snakes, clowns, etc.

    • If you would like to know the different types of phobias that exist, you can read our article “Types of phobias: exploring fear disorders”

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