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The Addiction to Technology


In this age of rapid technological advances, it isn’t a surprise that many people spend far too much time on social media as well as on technological novelties such as the iPad or tablets. Potentially more surprising is the fact that people are experiencing symptoms similar to those of drug withdrawals when they are separated from their computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. This is a problem, like addiction in general, that affects people of all ages, down to children as young as four years-old.

The internet and other forms of technology seem to have the same addictive qualities as drugs or alcohol in the lives of youth. When the University of Maryland conducted a study of about 1000 students worldwide by asking them to avoid their cell phones, internet, and television for a single day, they found that 4 in 5 students had notable mental and physical side effects (Hough). These effects include experiencing confusion, anxiety, irritability, insecurity, nervousness, anger, loneliness, depression, and paranoia – which are all feelings commonly reported by addicts when their drug is taken away. It’s not just teenage students who are being affected by this phenomenon, however.

Children who are given tablets as a means of reward or distraction are also prone to experiencing dependency on the device. These kids are being given access to these devices as a means of quieting or calming them down, who are often allowed to play with them for hours at a time. One such case is a four year-old British child who plays on tablets for up to four hours a day and becomes inconsolable and distressed when she is separated from her mother’s tablet (Ward). This can result in the inability to form normal social relationships due to the constant interaction with their technology. But is any of this really that shocking?

While it may be difficult to equate the internet with physical addictions, they have the same predictors and emotional effects. The internet can easily be used as a means of escaping reality or as a distraction from whatever situation an individual is facing at the moment. Our society is becoming increasingly reliant on the internet, from job applications to news to communication between friends.

As with the majority of things, using these tools moderately is not harmful. However, when they become staples of our existence, they have the potential to cause great harm to people. After all, if a person cannot communicate effectively outside of the lit screen of a phone or tablet, he or she is likely to experience social anxiety when faced with interpersonal interactions. Normal and healthy social interactions and relationships are negated by obsessive internet and technology use. Therefore it is not a surprise that when these things are taken away, there is an onslaught of uncomfortable and unfamiliar feelings.

Technological advances in and of themselves are accomplishments that allow for people to access things in a more timely and efficient manner. When used compulsively, they actually have the capacity to cause psychological issues similar to those found in cases of substance addictions. Moderation is the key to using technology in a helpful and forward manner.

If you are questioning if this is a problem for you, just take the challenge that the University of Maryland issued to students: go for a single day without technology, and see how you feel. As with any ‘addiction’, only the individual can ultimately determine whether it is a problem in his or her life.


Works Cited:

Hough, Andrew. “Student ‘addiction’ to technology ‘similar to drug cravings’, study finds.” Telegraph. 08 April 2011. Web. 10 May 2013.

Seales, Rebecca and Eleanor Harding. “Four-year-old girl is Britain’s youngest iPad ADDICT: Shocking rise in children hooked on using smartphones and tablets.” Mail Online. 21 April 2013. Web. 10 May 2013.

Ward, Victoria. “Toddlers becoming so addicted to iPads they require therapy.” Telegraph. 21 April 2013. Web. 10 May 2013.

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Written by

A native New Yorker, Bre loves the California scene and writing for Treatment4Addiction. She has been writing content for T4A for five months, and loves to learn new things, form opinions, and send them out to the world. Her interests include dance, singing, acting, talking with friends, being a daughter, and being the best big sister she can to her 16 year old brother. After attending ASU for a few months, she is interested in taking cosmetology classes and exploring her options. She looks forward to learning all she can, and doing something positive with that knowledge and experience.

Filed under: Addiction, Latest News · Tags: addiction and children, internet addiction, moderation, technology addiction is operated by Recovery Brands LLC, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, Inc.
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