THE BRAIN FINALLY FACES ITS OWN ADDICTION
Dear Noble Robo-Witness,
About two weeks ago, THE TUCKER CARLSON SHOW on Fox News, talked about Internet Addiction (abbreviated, IA), as being a rapidly-growing problem. Tucker and his guests complained about several of the leaders who created Facebook. He claimed they actually knew that this social media site was going to be highly addictive to its users – – much like alcohol has a strong tendency to become highly addictive to its users! In this case, however, Internet Addiction (IA) is a behavioral addiction to digital media, rather than a drug or chemical addiction to alcohol consumption. For you see, in either type of addiction, it’s all about what happens to your BRAIN (as suggested by the stark photo, above)!
An Overview of The General IA Problem
Review of the literature shows a large assortment of articles related to either the Internet Addiction, or, more broadly, to the Digital Addiction, problem. The well-known online reference, WIKIPEDIA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_addict) defines digital addict as, “a person who compulsively uses digital technology, which would manifest as another form of addiction if that technology was not as easily accessible to them. ….. The primary theory is digital technology users develop digital addiction by their habitual use and reward from computer applications. This reward triggers the reward center in the brain that releases more dopamine, opiates, and neurochemicals, which over time can produce a stimulation tolerance or need to increase stimulation to achieve a ‘high’ and prevent withdrawal.”
Digital or Internet Addiction, therefore, appears to be a type of behavioral addiction to technology, that causes a user “high” much like that experienced in the chemical addiction to drugs. “So what?” the digital addict might respond with uncomfortable irritation. WIKIPEDIA claims that, “… the user neglects to maintain a healthy balance between using technology and socializing outside of it.”
Depression and Overuse of Technology
An interesting recent article – – The Facts On Our Digital Addiction And The Need For Digital Detox (https://www.itstimetologoff.com/digital-detox-facts/) – – describes some specific digital addiction problems. One prominent mental health concern is occurrence of depression: “There is a strong link between heavy internet use and depression, with heavy users 5X more likely to suffer from depression than non-heavy users. … Scientists have also found a link between heavy Facebook use and depressive symptoms, including low self-esteem. … Staying off social media for a week has been shown in a study to increase happiness. A new study published has linked too much smartphone use with higher incidence of anxiety and depression.”
Damaging Effects of Tech Overuse Upon The Brain – – And Thinking and Learning!
The same article (mentioned above) points out some very bad effects of tech addiction upon our ability to focus, concentrate, and do deep thinking: “Human average attention spans have declined significantly in the 8 years since smartphone existed and are now lower than that of a goldfish. As our tech habits deny our brains important downtime, our ability for deep-thinking and maintained focus is reducing. Skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined as our use of technology has increased. A link has been found between excessive social media use and poor academic performance.” Even worse, “Neuroimaging research has shown that excessive screen time actually damages the brain. Structural and functional changes have been found in brain regions involving emotional processes, executive attention, decision making, and cognitive control.”
Unrelieved Stress Caused by an “Always-On” Culture
A majority of 60% of people claim that they feel unrelieved tech-stress, even on vacation or holiday, due to their checking of e-mails and taking phone calls, sometimes multiple times each day! The authors call this phenomenon the “Always-On” Culture.
Higher Risk of Digital Addiction Among Teenagers
Rob Nightingale (2015) claims that, Extreme Digital Addiction is Destroying Kids’ Lives Around the Globe. He declares, “With children in all corners of the globe immersed in technology from ever-younger ages, it’s about time we reflected on the startling impact this is having on their development. It’s only by acknowledging the harm that digital addiction is having on our young population that we can understand how to best protect future generations.”
He states that the Net Children Go Mobile 2015 report found that 46% of Irish children (age 9-16) had access to the Internet from their bedroom, with a doubling of children being “bothered” by what they had seen since the year, 2011. For instance, 21% had viewed sexual images, and 13% admitted to being bullied online. Nightingale reports that teen suicides have been linked to visiting Ask.fm. Quoting Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr. Colin O’Gara, he reveals that, “Some children are being introduced to Internet-connected technologies as soon as they can speak,” with excessive online game addiction in teens creating a constant preoccupation with the game, even when not playing it. Further, game-addicted teens seem to develop tolerance for their gaming behavior. They must spend ever more and more time playing it to get the same “High,” fighting off game withdrawal symptoms until it completely dominates their waking hours!
Texting addiction in digital natives. Nightingale quotes a therapist about texting addiction in young people: “The symptoms of texting addiction are preoccupation with the digital device, craving to spend more and more time online [or] texting, secretive behavior, [and] mood swings.” He further adds that those who are so-called “digital natives” (under the age of 25) are most susceptible to this form of Internet addiction. The secondary consequences include an increased risk of substance abuse, anxiety disorders, depression, social disorders, and poor nutrition. Most surprising for young addicts, there is a significant occurrence of arthritis of the finger joints, as well as back and neck problems.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Nick Maslow (May 19, 2017) talked about a 20/20 TV special describing Digital Addiction Symptoms. He wrote the related article, Is Your Child’s Digital Obsession Dangerous? Here Are The Signs. “Is it interfering with school? Are you getting bad grades? Is it interfering with their functioning? Or they’re breaking things, or they’re fighting with you, they’re hurting themselves, they’re refusing to go to school, they’re not sleeping at all, they’re gaining a massive amount of weight.”
Maslow mentions the work of Kevin Roberts, author of Cyber Junkie and Escape the Gaming and Internet Trap. This expert recommends that parents take action when an Internet-addicted child won’t follow rules, lies, or covers up the addictive behavior. A real red flag of danger is displayed after the child starts showing emotional outbursts whenever you turn off the game or take away the smartphone.
Digital Detoxification Versus Simple Prevention
Roberts highly recommends the simple task of prevention of Internet Addiction, in the first place! Since this problem seems to be the worst among our young people, he advises severely limiting screen use in children under 7. “I would not use technology as babysitters,” he wisely warns us. “Require outdoor activities, sports, performance in school as requisite behaviors that you have to accomplish in order to use technology.” He also emphasizes proper example-setting by responsible parents: “You have to be the model. You have to be the model that you want in your children.”
For those adults and children who are already nearing Digital Addiction, a special Digital Detoxification Period without exposure to digital devices, is recommended. WIKIPEDIA cites Tech Timeout, an international campaign that encourages families to seriously examine how dependent they really are upon the electronic devices in their home. Tech Timeout literally asks you to take at least an hour out of each day, and spend it with your family – – completely free of digital technology! (If this voluntary “digital detox” doesn’t work, you may have to seek out a Professional Psychotherapist for help!) Either way, you will finally be free of a tech addict’s foolishly self-destructive ignorance and denial! And even better, you will have wisely forced your brain to finally “Face it’s own Addiction!”
[NOTE: This article is also being posted on https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/robowatch]