Tag Archives: Screen Addiction

Understanding, Treating and Preventing Digital Addiction 

 

 

In recent years, the world has been consumed with technology. The digital age has exploded in the modern world, and reliance on technology increases every day. Most people know when to take a break from their laptops, tablets and smartphones to just relax and enjoy the world outside, but some people become too invested in their tech. The issue has become so bad that new mental health problems have developed as a result. 

 

What is Digital Addiction?

 

Addiction is characterized by a need to use digital devices to the point where people do it compulsively and ceasing to do so over a significant period of time causes great emotional and physical duress. When this issue reaches a point where it negatively impacts the person’s life, it becomes a mental health problem and treatment becomes necessary. 

 

Digital addiction is separated into three groups; phone, Internet and social media addiction. Phone addiction is hallmarked by a reliance on a smartphone specifically. People with phone addiction constantly have their phones in their hands, check their phones incessantly, use their phones frequently in social situations and even develop anxiety when they don’t have their phones on them. 

 

Internet addiction is a reliance on the Internet through the use of any device. They spend a bulk of their time online, and some cases get so severe that the sufferer might develop difficulties discerning reality from the virtual world. Internet addiction can also lead to gambling problems or a gaming addiction.

 

Finally, social media addiction is an impulsive need to constantly check, scroll through and update social media pages such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and more. Not being able to keep updated on these social media pages causes feelings of depression.

 

How is Digital Addiction Treated?

 

The first step to treating a tech addiction, as with any addiction, is realizing the problem. With tech use being so common in today’s world, it can be very difficult to determine when the line has been crossed into developing an addiction. Friends and family members can help draw the person’s attention to the issue, but, ultimately, the person needs to realize what’s happening for themselves and seek treatment.

 

Once the person is already on the road to seeking help, the next step is making sure this addiction isn’t a symptom of another problem. Tech addiction is commonly a problem branched off from other mental health problems including, but not limited to;

 

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Schizophrenia

 

If the addiction is the only issue, the next step is digital detox. Just as it sounds, a digital detox involves breaking away fully from the Internet, social media and all manner of Internet-ready devices like phones and tablets. However, it’s not purely about quitting technology altogether. It’s about socializing face to face, getting some fresh air outdoors, enjoying sports and other physical games, taking up a hobby, developing a skill and reestablishing life without the reliance on the digital world.

 

Additionally, going through a digital detox allows for the development of healthy tech use practices. Unlike many other addictions where the addictive behavior can be dropped entirely, like with drugs, alcohol or smoking, it’s difficult to drop Internet, social media and device usage since they’re so deeply ingrained in everyday life. 

 

Developing healthier patterns in tech use allows people to return to the digital realm without becoming leashed to it. 

 

Behavioral therapies have been effective for treating addictions to technology. These therapies introduce healthier alternatives to Internet or device usage to help alleviate feelings of anxiety, depression, stress and more that comes from the deprivation.

 

Group therapies have also been successful in both providing a support network to people with an addiction to technology and giving them the resources to recover on their own time. Some drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities may also provide care for people with non-drug related addictions. 

 

In addition to therapy, several programs have been developed to help cut down on Internet, social media and device usage. For example, there is a software that limits Internet use over the course of a day. Once the limit has been met, the connection shuts off until the following day. Similar software limits the usage of select social media websites, and there are even blocks to prevent access to the Internet and certain websites entirely for however long the user needs.

 

If there are other underlying mental health issues behind the addiction, like anxiety or depression, a therapist may prescribe medication to help deal with the effects. 

 

How to Prevent Tech Addiction

With the prominence of technology in modern day society, anyone could be susceptible to a technology addiction. Avoiding this issue is very possible, and it doesn’t require massive changes to a person’s everyday life.

 

Make it a rule to go out and do something every day. Even if it’s simply a nice walk, playing a game outdoors or relaxing with a book on the porch, substituting one hour a day for some fresh air outside can stave off the urge. If the weather isn’t accommodating, try cleaning a room in the house, spending quality time with a friend or family member or getting some other household chores done.

 

Don’t look to devices as a cure for boredom. Instead, take up a hobby, listen to some music or go to a movie.

 

Part of addiction is a rewards system. Just like drugs and alcohol trigger feelings such as euphoria, using the Internet and social media provide rewards through entertainment, a feeling of achievement through games or enjoying attention through likes on social media. Avoiding addiction through a similar rewards system is very beneficial. For example, for every hour not spent on social media during the day, put a dollar in a savings fund for something fun like a vacation or a new outfit.

 

It’s also a good idea to do everything to stop the rewards system of the addiction. For instance, turn off phone or desktop notifications for social media websites to reduce the constant feeling of rewards when the notification sounds.

 

The same limiting software that help with technology addiction recovery is also a great tool for preventing addiction in the first place. It’s not necessary to utilize software that automatically turns off devices, Internet connections or access to social media pages, but being cognizant of the usage and tracking it through these programs helps people understand when they might be developing a dependency. 

If there is a significant concern over developing a dependency on the Internet or social media, have a friend or family member help with monitoring usage. Not only does having a partner help prevent overusing technology, but they can be a great emotional support to help make it through the rough times and make the successes that much more gratifying. 

 

The WHO (World Health Organization) Officially Makes Video Gaming Disorder a Mental Health Classification.

The World Health Organization’s announcement to include gaming disorder a medical diagnosis.

Through the years, video games have gotten a bad rap. They are seen as a major distraction, with tech addiction affecting people of all ages and all genders. They have remained controversial through the years with their graphic topics covering violence and sexuality. And now, video games have taken the limelight globally for being recognized as an alarming disorder.

Last may 25, the World Health Organization, also known as WHO, voted to include gaming disorder as a form of behavioral addiction in its International Classification of Diseases. What many parents scream to their kids about how their video gaming addiction is terribly annoying and how tech addiction is ruining their lives have just now become officially and dangerously real. There are several parameters to receive this gaming disorder diagnosis:
A person needs to show 12 months of continuous symptoms
Gaming and screen addiction takes up many hours of the technological addict’s time
Prioritizing gaming over health, hygiene, work, and social relationships

Gaming Figures

This declaration by the WHO on gaming disorders comes at a time wherein the impact and clout of the gaming industry is at its peak. Last year alone, this video and online gaming industry made up to $44 billion in sales; making them even more popular than streaming services and movie theaters. In the United States alone, research indicated that 167 million citizens played some form of electronic game, with majority of those figures playing online.

Gaming has overtaken the place of older social media apps, leaving less time for those with a video gaming addiction to spend on FB, IG, or Snapchat. This diagnosis has, of course, alarmed parents across the globe because data indicates that 97 percent of teen boys and 83 percent of teen girls play games on some kind of device. Some form of digital detox or detoxification from excessive gadgetry is necessary.

Conflicting Community

The WHO’s voice is without a doubt one that is filled with authority and power. However, it must be noted that they are not the only word, nor the last word in the field of science. In fact, there are those up in arms over this diagnosis. Of course, the video game companies are not happy over this declaration. But even in the community of scientists, there is quite a split between supporting tech addition as the real deal or whether this is a gross exaggeration.

It is important to note that technology addiction doesn’t even appear on the bible of the psychiatric profession in the United States. The closest it comes to being mentioned in the latest edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is something called Internet Gaming Disorder. However, it not listed as an alarming condition that’s a cause for concern. The term was just mentioned briefly with notes that stating this disorder needs further study.

This lack of a medical sounding diagnosis is a vital one. This omission is important because it shapes therapists’ and doctors’ understanding of their patients and the tools they need in order to extend help. And more significant, it is harder to bill insurance providers without this official code in the official manual.

Still Alarming

There is no official term in the United States yet, but clinicians and researchers find screen addiction still ever so alarming. Patterns of behavior associated with excessive video games consumption continues to be a cause for concern, especially because the bulk of the people involved in doing it are children.

A doctor by the name of Douglas Gentile from Iowa State University admits to facing this video game addiction and excessive internet use concept with a lot of skepticism. But he that all the data and hard evidence are already staring everyone in the face but people struggle in accepting, facing, and handling the truth. The serious dysfunction this addiction affects includes multiple aspects of a person’s life and it is not imaginary but very real.

Points to Consider in Problematic Use

The advent of technology in this very advanced and fast paced world has exposed every single person to a device. Gadget use has been very prevalent that even young kids have to grapple with its consequences due to early and too much exposure. There are many adverse issues raised against excessive use of technology. Aside from just physically damaging the eyes due to the radiation emitted by the devices, the exposure to so much screen time can cause the brain to change. As mentioned above, there are printouts of brain images that show the actual effect of gadgets on the brain of real live subjects. As a result, these alarming changes in the brain are the ones that are feared to create the real physical dependency.

On top of that, overuse of gadgets, games, and media is seen as a bigger symptom of something deeper such as issues on depression, ADHD, or anxiety. In a study called A Parent Report Measure of Screen Media Addiction indicated that parents are alarmed by their children’s behavior. Taking away the gadgets only seem to make their children more rebellious. It also does not guarantee they will not have access to it in school or in other social settings. But what they do know is that excessive gadget consumption has the capacity to affect their kids’ health (staying up late nights make them prone to illnesses), impact the grades, affect time spent with family, and interfere with social relationships.

Proposed Treatment

Rather than just taking the gadgets away, which will cause more harm and drama than good, there must be harm reduction through digital detox. Taking the gadget away does not really eliminate the problem because these will always be present in the modern world. Confiscating the gadget is akin to throwing it under the rug and pretending it doesn’t exist. Instead discipline and healthy use of gadgets must be taught through mindful usage and controlled consumption.

Going cold turkey on video games may not be plausible because for the users it does provide them some measure of positivity such as entertainment, making them feel good, or helping them socialize with their online friends. However, there can be steps done to ensure that the temptation to keep on playing or using the device s kept at bay. For instance, keeping devices out of bedrooms is one way to ensure that these gamers get quality sleep. It is also important to make sure that young people attend school, make time for friends, and spend time outdoors.

Addiction is real, and although the numbers may not be that high in video games use, it doesn’t mean that it is not happening. That being said, branding someone as an addict is especially dangerous, especially for teens who are still in the difficult stage of conceptualizing their identities. What is more important is realizing that negative habits need correction and proper guidance must be given to correct these unpalatable types of behavior. The word addiction and disorder both drum up attention. They are controversial. Nowadays, where people can’t even leave the house without their mobile phones, controlled consumption has become harder and harder to do. But one thing is clear, no one needs an official doctor’s diagnosis to get people to put down their devices more often.

Learn More

Executives are Performing Better with “Digital Detox” Programs

If you’re feeling a Pavlovian effect when you get texts, emails, alerts, etc. and/or find yourself picking up your phone constantly anyway? – it’s time for digital detox.

You don’t have to sleep under your desk like Marissa Meyer and Elon Musk in order to need digital detox. Look for signs like being distracted by technology to the point that you can’t focus, your creativity is stifled, and you have trouble making decisions.

Carrying on the old 90’s tradition of always being online, is pase. This sends the message to the rest of the company that if their not online then they’re slacking. The old online all the time mentality is counterproductive. Afterall, the point of technology is to improve our lives not make our lives worse.

Cellphones, tech gadgets, and computers are awesome and most everyone loves them because they offer so many benefits. However, if not handled properly with a digital health mindset, we can get paint ourselves into a corner. We’re constantly force fed information all day everyday. We get worn down to the point where we no longer have the stamina, snap and intellectual horsepower to keep up the tempo.

As an Executive with your cellphone in hand, when speaking to employees do you think they feel you’re paying attention, are appreciated and are being understood? What about strategizing in the boardroom with your team, partners, customers, and/or investors. What would be going through their minds after that meeting, was it productive, goals accomplished, decisions made properly?

Regularly scheduled digital detox programs will benefit your health, your company, and all of those around you.

 

Initially letting go of your smartphone is unnerving for most people. Usually before long we become more creative and productive. Detox clients sometimes step back and strategize on what phone activities have a positive return and which activities have a negative return. Then create a plan and decide how to execute.

Therapy and Activities that Help:

Nature immersion and adventure therapy are just a couple of ways that will help defuse the digital addiction. Some activities may include, snorkeling, hiking, horseback riding, indoor rock climbing, meditation, Yoga, paddle boarding, zip-lining, etc.

We have programs at Maui Recovery and Omega Recovery in Austin, TX.

 

Your Kid’s Brain on Video Games

 

Over the last ten years, video games have steadily etched their way into one of the most preferred form of entertainment throughout the world as a result of the steady decrease in TV viewing habits. This is because video games are no longer limited to arcades or homes. Portable systems and mobile devices have made gaming a possibility no matter where you are. Nonetheless, consoles and computers remain widely popular gaming systems.

 

This ubiquitous nature of video games is the main cause of video gaming addiction in teens and children as they do not know when they should stop playing. Not surprisingly, parents are becoming increasingly concerned about this screen addiction. It is a major cause of worry when you notice that video games are the top priority in your child’s life. The child may start neglecting their hobbies, friends, sports, and schoolwork. Moreover, they may lash out at anyone who tries to limit their gaming.

 

The American Academy of Pediatrics has it that, on average, kids today spend about seven hours each day on some type of electronic device. Additionally, about 97% of kids aged between 12 and 17 play video games regularly.

 

Understandably, as a parent, you may start wondering whether your child has an actual addiction to video games. And if so, is their brain in danger? This article will take a closer look at video game addiction and how it can affect your child’s brain and life?

What is Video Game Addiction?

 

Gaming addiction refers to the compulsive and uncontrolled use of digital games, in a manner that results in problems in other areas of the gamer’s life. It is, therefore, considered a form of tech addiction or screen addiction. Video gaming addiction is an issue of increasing concern among parents as digital games become more popular and are increasingly being targeted at children. These include console games, computer games, cell phone games, and arcade games. Today, they are even embedded in social networking sites.

 

How Do Video Games Affect the Brain?

 

Most games are designed to trigger the sensory responses that humans use when they are exposed to danger. Whenever the brain feels threatened or senses danger, it kicks in our primitive survival mechanisms that work to protect us from harm. This is an instantaneous response that has been hardwired into our genes to ensure our survival. Nonetheless, a threat does not have to be real for this response to be triggered. It only takes the brain to perceive danger for the body to react.

 

Upon triggering this instinct, the nervous system and hormones work to jolt our state of arousal to enable faster reactions. As such, the body goes into a state of hyperarousal – commonly referred to as the fight-or-flight response. The issue, however, is that the feelings associated with this state are typically difficult to shake off even after the threat (real or perceived) is long gone.

 

The hyperarousal state is also referred to as ‘running from the tiger,’ since our ancestors literally had to protect themselves from predators by either fighting or running. Even though most humans today do not live in fear of predation, we still need this rapid stress response when we are in emergency situations or even the mild day-to-day stress reactions that help us to get things done. However, repeatedly going through this response when survival is not at stake does more harm than good in the long run.

 

As mentioned earlier, after a fight or flight stress response, the brain usually has a hard time regulating itself to a calm state. As such, when this response occurs regularly or too intensely, it can lead to a state of chronic stress. Stress is usually as a result of the mismatch between the survival response reactions and energy expenditure, as is typical with video games. When your body goes into that response, it builds up energy to help you through that moment. As such, this energy needs to be physically discharged so that the nervous system can re-regulate. When that energy is not discharged, the nervous system does not re-regulate effectively thus leading to chronic stress.

 

Once the body goes into a state of chronic stress, blood flow is directed away from the frontal lobe (the higher thinking part of the brain) and towards the deeper, primitive areas which are designed to help you survive adverse situations. The result is a functioning impairment.

 

Chronic stress sets in faster in children than in adults. This is because their nervous systems are still developing thus making those sequence of events to occur a lot faster in them. And when a child becomes chronically stressed, they soon begin to struggle.

 

And because the primary effect of chronic stress is felt on the frontal lobe, the child becomes mentally depleted. This leads to issues such as having trouble paying attention, suppressed impulses,an inability to manage emotions, difficulty following directions, frustration, and a hard time executing tasks. Moreover, these effects are compounded by the amount of screen-time that is spent playing these games. The body clock of a heavy gamer is usually distorted thus hindering deep sleep. Missing quality sleep regularly will result in mood, cognitive, and behavior issues.

How Gaming Addiction Compares to Other Addictions

 

An addiction to video games is similar to other addictions in terms of the amount of time and effort channeled into the activity, the emotional attachment involved, and the patterns of social difficulties displayed by the gamers.

 

As is the case with other addictions, video game addicts are preoccupied with gaming, thus disrupting their relationships, hobbies, and school. The younger a child begins to play video games, the more the likelihood that they will develop a dependence on video games.

 

Other Harmful Effects Associated With Video Games

 

In addition to addiction, the following are other harmful effects that have been linked to heavy video game use:

 

 An increased vulnerability to light-induced seizures, enhanced metabolic rate, and musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities.

 Reduced cooperative behavior during group settings or social interactions.

 An increase in aggressive thoughts and behaviors especially in children under the age of ten.

Research done on video game addicts reveals that, in general, they exhibit poorer mental health characterized by a decrease in cognitive abilities such as poor impulse control and ADHD symptoms. Moreover, individuals who are addicted to video games also tend to experience emotional difficulties, as well as being highly susceptible to anxiety and depression. They also report as feeling socially isolated, in addition to being more likely to have issues with internet pornography.

 

Parents need to learn the science behind how the time spent playing video games can overstimulate the nervous system, and how those effects manifest themselves, especially in their own child. By learning this information, parents will be better equipped to make strategic decisions regarding the role of video games in their children’s lives. It puts them in the driver’s seat rather than constantly being swayed by misleading headlines and cultural headlines.

Unfortunately, gaming addiction is a relatively new psychological problem, and as such, it can be difficult for parents to find experts who specialize in video game addiction. Nonetheless, help is available for parents looking to help their kids to overcome their tech addiction. Omega Recovery is a contemporary addiction treatment center run by experts with a breadth of knowledge across all areas of addiction. Are you looking to curb your child’s gaming addiction? Contact us today, and we will be glad to help.