What an addict could tell you about your tech habit

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coworkers on cell phonesA man walks into rehab. He takes off his jacket and puts down his Google glass. Then he checks himself in for alcoholism and tech addiction treatment. Sounds like a joke, but it isn’t. According to CNN, the man had been connected to his Google glass approximately 18 hours per day for several months leading up to his rehab check-in. For many of us who are always connected to our mobiles, this time frame may not sound too excessive, but in reality it should be cause for alarm. At what point does our tech habit make us a potential tech addict?

Am I addicted to my mobile phone?

It is common today to be connected to technology 24/7; answering emails late at night or checking-in first thing in the morning. But the addiction line is crossed once technology takes over real relationships and replaces our goals and aspirations with anti-social behaviour and withdrawal.

Here are three warning signs that you may be addicted to your mobile phone:

1. Your online social time is more about connected isolation than socializing

Connected isolation is the new loneliness. It’s the belief that being busy online is the same as social interaction. However, social networks can at times be less about socializing and much more about filling a void in your life.

  • Ask yourself whether or not you fill up your loneliness by staying distracted with technology.

2. You have mood swings when you can’t access your mobile phone

Like any drug or alcohol “habit”, a key marker of an addiction is mood swings from withdrawal. Time away from technology may occur because of a busted battery or simply because you misplaced your mobile phone. Nevertheless, an extended withdrawal period will cause a tech addict to feel a heightened sense of anxiety from possibly “missing out”.

  • Consider when you put down your mobile whether you can comfortably walk away from it without feeling stressed about unanswered emails or being disconnected.

3. You regularly interrupt social interactions to respond to an urgent message

It’s understandable that sometimes we have to put a conversation on hold in order to answer an urgent call. But what happens when we start to do this regularly and consider every call (or email) as urgent?

  • Ask yourself if a mobile notification is important enough to stop a face-to-face conversation with a friend or co-worker. Consider whether your tech habit will annoy or alienate others.

While not a recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-V), tech addiction disorder may soon become more widely recognized as technology continues to affect our daily lives. The challenge will be to find that grey line between managing a tech habit or being a tech addict.

By Talya Rotem


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