The Internet with the aid of different forms of technology has reduced the world into a global village. The statement is true but paradoxical at the same time. The reason being, a village in its original sense is a group of families clustered together for social benefits. Therefore, members of the village constantly interacted, assisted each other and were truly aware and conscious of each other’s well-being. The internet allows constant interaction but lacks awareness in the general well-being of individuals. Most profiles on social media platforms are not a true reflection of the person or the lives they are living.
Technology addiction was first recognized as a medical condition in the 1990s. Like every other form of addiction, tech addiction is the inability to prioritize one’s life and as a result, technology gadgets and the internet are the only priorities recognized by the brain. There have been two main ways of looking at this addiction, one based on how often one uses on technology and the other on how it is used. Some psychologists argue that there should be a set amount of hours one should not exceed on the internet or technology per day. Others argue that it is what you do on the internet or tech devices that amounts to addiction.
I tend to agree more with the latter approach to tech addiction, the ‘how’ usage impacts our lives more than the hours spent with tech. There are people whose jobs require them to be online for up to 12 hours a day. That does not necessarily mean they are addicted to the internet or their gadgets. However, there are those whom their gadgets define their moods, their next cause of action and how they relate with others.
Scenario 1: Tech vs Safety
What do you do when your phone beeps signaling a new message or notification? Do you drop everything you are doing and respond to the beep? What if you are driving, do you take your eyes off the road to see who texted and even attempt to respond? If you do this, it means you have placed a sense of urgency and importance on your devise and it tramples personal and other people’s safety on the road.
Scenario 2: Tech vs Social relationships
What if you were having a conversation with your friend or a family member, do you allow the beep on your phone to distract you, ask for time to respond and end up forgetting you were having a conversation with someone who is physically present? How does your family outing look like? Is everyone at the dinner table with their phones and tablets? Do you know how your spouse’s or child’s day was? If this is your case, you may think you are being social but you are not! The relationships that are physically present with you are more important than those on your online platforms. They need to be nurtured, valued lest they will slowly fade away…
Scenario 3: Tech vs Psychological Well-being
What happens in the case of a power failure? Do you rush out to the nearest generator powered cyber? Do you go to bed or get moody or do you hang out with the people in the house with you? In the absence of technology, if you find yourself unable to interact with those around you or control how you react, tech has taken over your autonomy and personal mastery i.e. psychological well-being.
Scenario 4: Tech Vs Emotional Well-being
Do you feel sad and empty when your phone is off or there is no internet connectivity? Are you the same person on your online platforms and offline? The inability to control your emotions and feelings in the absence of technology is a sure sign of technology addiction/dependence.
The questions and evaluation criteria are endless, but these are some of the questions anyone who interacts with technology should constantly ask themselves to evaluate their mental well-being in the absence of technology.
Technology addiction is a social problem in my opinion and only with the help of friends and loved ones can one overcome it. I would advise, if you are hooked on an online game, next time you get the urge to play it, chose to play with a physical person, i.e., chess or football to replace the online game.
Take a physical exercise class such as boxing, taekwondo or just go to the gym to substitute your love for watching or playing boxing games online!
When you want to have family time, switch off the phones or put them on silent mode and be present in the ongoing discussions. At the end of the day, we all interact with technology and need it. But we should never let technology be our master, in that case, it will defeat its purpose to our detriment!