Escaping the technology loop

VICTORIA (CUP) — People concerned that they can’t stop checking their Facebook, text messages, email and Twitter over and over again can take heart that they’re not alone.
In fact, this affliction can happen to anyone. Perhaps the TV show Portlandia explains the condition best, in a scene where Fred Armisen’s character can’t pull himself away from his computer and smart phone, constantly checking for new texts and Facebook updates. When his best friend discovers him in his trance-like condition at his computer, she realizes he’s been caught in a “technology loop,” yanks him away from his desk and drags him outside.
Although it’s easy to make light of, with social media firmly entrenched in our culture and smartphones exploding in popularity, technology addiction is actually having a large impact on society.
A recent report by Ofcom, an independent regulation authority of the U.K. communications industry, says that of smartphone owners, 37 per cent of adults and 60 per cent of teens describe themselves as “highly addicted” to them.
The report notes that smartphones have intruded on peoples’ lives in many ways, including their use while socializing with surrounding people, during mealtimes and even during trips to the bathroom.
In his book Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyberfreaks and Those Who Love Them, Dr. David Greenfield explains that the way people’s brains react to the constant stimulation of these technologies can be compared to a gambling addiction.
“All of these behaviours most likely involve an elevation of the neurochemical serotonin that we experience as a temporary sense of exhilaration. This process is short-lived, but very intense, pleasurable, and habit-forming,” explains Greenfield.
Thankfully, there are solutions that people can use to break free of their tech addictions. In his book The Digital Diet, author Daniel Sieberg outlines a four-step procedure though which people can reduce their digital intake.
The first step technology addicts need to take is to stop and consider the effects heavy technology use has on their general well-being. The second step is monitoring their regular amount of technology use, via a “Virtual Weight Index.”
The next step is to consider the personal relationships that may have taken a back seat to compulsive social media use. Finally, people have to determine how to minimize their technology use by using it as efficiently as possible.
As Greenfield explains, Internet and social media are best done with an “everything in moderation” approach. “The Internet’s addiction potential is simply the opposite side of the coin and represents a dialectic of the good it can do,” says Greenfield.
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