Technology is changing the world and research has proven that cell phones are addicting. What is worse is that cell phone addiction promotes narcissistic and neurotic behavior (Person & Hussain, 2015). Even people who were not self-centered at all before cell phone addiction tend to become narcissistic. The problem is so serious that experts have recommended that cell phones come with warnings about the dangers of potential technology addiction.
Technology addicts become focused on checking for texts and monitoring emails. Game and other apps add to the fascination with cell phones. As cell phone addiction increases, the addict becomes increasing neurotic, obsessively checking the phone for new messages and data. As anxiety levels increase, the addict becomes even more focused on controlling the phone. The focus on the phone takes over all reason, and the addict becomes narcissistic, focusing only on the self. Relationships and careers take a back seat to the technology addiction. Sometimes the addiction becomes so intense that job and romance are squeezed out of the addict’s life altogether.
The science of technology addiction is complex. Cell phone use provides extreme levels of satisfaction and total customization by the user. The high level of control that a phone owner can exert over the cell phone technology experience may contribute to the addictive quality of smart phone use. The brain’s pleasure and reward system is activated by the flashing lights, pinging sounds, and intermittent messages and pictures. The addict becomes increasingly focused on cell phone use until it begins to interfere with work, friendships, and even romance.
The brain’s nucleus accumbens is susceptible to excitation by highly stimulating activities. Cell phone technology provides the user with games, pictures, music, and communication – all on demand. Individuals who become more involved with cell phone use may be more likely to fall into an addictive pattern. Harvard Medical School (2009) explained that some individuals are more prone to addiction than others. None of us know whether we will become the next cell phone addict, strung out on smart phone technology.
Unfortunately, no drugs are able to treat technology addiction. Instead, the recovering addict must make a clean break from the offending smart phone. Eliminating all cell phone use is the best approach. Cell phone calls can be forwarded to a land line that does not offer any fancy buttons or apps. When ditching the cell phone is not an option, recovering technology addicts can downgrade service and hardware to reduce access to apps and stimulation.
Addiction to technology is an example of a process addiction. Even though no substance is involved in technology addiction, kicking the habit can be overwhelming. Recovering cell phone addicts should consider enlisting the support of an Addictions Counselor, Psychologist, or Psychotherapist to improve the odds for success. Support groups are also available to support addicts who are struggling to kick the cell phone habit.
Harvard Medical School. (2009). The addicted brain. Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/the_addicted_brain
Pearson, C., & Hussain, Z., (2015). Smartphone use, addiction, narcissism, and personality. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning, 5(1), 17-32.
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