Technology Addiction

This probably sounds familiar: You’re out to dinner with friends, and everything’s fun, until you get that itch. It’s been 20 minutes, and you really want to check Facebook, or Twitter, or Foursquare or email. Forget about wanting; this is needing. You finally give in to the urge and sneakily check your phone under the table or fake an urgent visit to the bathroom, where you’ll take a hit of the Internet while huddling In a stallAnecdotally, our Internet use seems to have spawned real addictions.

And according to several recently released surveys, we’ve got it bad. More than half of Amerlcens would rether give up chocolete, alcohol end caffeine for e week before parting temporarily with their phones, according to a recent survey by technology firm TeleNav. One-third would give up sex, 22% would give up their toothbrushes (versus of IPhone users, who evidently love their phone more than clean teeth) and 21% would rather go shoeless before separating from a mobile phone. Sixty-six percent sleep with their smartphones by their slde.

Our addiction is so severe that people described going 24 hours without Internet akin to quitting an alcohol or igarette habit, according to a report from British company Interspersion. About 40% of those surveyed reported feeling lonely without the Internet, and felt upset at being deprived. One person described unplugging to having my hand chopped off. -universlty students who faced a sudden Internet and media blackout began to display withdrawal symptoms, during another survey conducted by the University ot Maryland.

At least its universal. One American said she was “itching like a crackhead- after going cold-turkey for 24 hours, and an Argentine student reported feeling dead” without media, while a Lebanese student described the whole experience as “sickening. “The students recognized that there are joys In life besides browsing the web and curating their social networks, according to the survey, but all nevertheless reported feeling distress, sadness, boredom or paranoia. “Media is my drug; without It I was lost,” said a British student. l am an addict. How could I survive 24 hours without wrote: “Emptiness overwhelmed me. ” Another said he “felt incomplete. “It Isn’t news that studies are finding that video games trigger dopamine eleases In the bralm while Dopamine has a few uses, the one that matters here Is how it acts as a reward system for certain things we do. For example, dopamine is released when we eet end hove sex because the body considers those things to be necessary to our survival as a species.

Certain types ot video games have managed to pull the dopamine trigger as well. What else can do it? Pretty much anything we find stimulating Nicotine causes dopamine release. so does caffeine (In a somewhat indirect way). Like video games, we can develop a dopamine release from many kinds f addictive behavior. Checking email Is one in particular. You may not like spending long amounts ot time in your inbox, but you probably think about checking it pretty often. When you hear that ding (or vibratel you know there’s something waiting for you.

To make things worse, because you do not receive email at set Intervals and you don’t know if that email is going to be something you want, your curiosity is piqued the moment the ding occurs just so you can find out If you’ve received something you Why Technology Is So Addictive, and How You Can Avoid Tech BurnoutExpand Back hen we were tethered to desktop computers, this wasn’t such a problem. First of all, technology had yet to proliferate in society at the enormous level it has nowadays, but more importantly we didn’t have little computers (read: smartphones) that we could stick in our pockets.

Previously we might check out email at a few convenient intervals during the day. Now these tiny little multitaskers are requesting our attention wherever we go. We have many more opportunities to interact with information and so we run into two more dilemmas: filtering an information overload nd using our technology appropriately. It’s pretty redundant to make laws outlawing texting while driving because it already falls under laws covering distracted driving, but holy crap, something needs to be done about it.

You have ridiculous cases like the Trolley driver rear ending another train because he was texting his girlfriend, and train conductors causing a 25-fatality crash because he was texting teenage boys telling them that they’re “gonna run the locomotive. ” There’s two commonalities to these accidents. First is that texting while you’re supposed to e paying attention and in charge of other people’s lives is a bad idea. Second, guys seem to be intent on texting people, no matter how inappropriate the time, if it’s going to get them laid.

If you’re spending time with another person, etiquette has always dictated that you give them your attention. Nonetheless, there’s still a lot of debate over whether or not it’s appropriate to, say, check email over dinner. It’s not okay to talk in a movie theater, but is it okay to shine your glowing screen in the eyes of other moviegoers? Is there a reasonable solution? The trend seems to be heading oward giving first priority to our devices, and this isn’t Just a social problem but a problem that works hand-in-hand with the dopamine triggers you develop from frequent use.

Tech etiquette isn’t Just important when dealing with other people around you; it’s also important because it serves as a means of limiting and governing your use. We do not need to respond to every message immediately at any time during the day, but our new brand of etiquette has given us a social obligation to text or email back as soon as humanly possible. If real life gets in the way, we cover it up with our phones. Neglecting to prioritize the real over the digital is only making matters worse. The Solutions So what do we do about it?

Overcoming a tech addiction and avoiding burnout requires work. There aren’t any magic tricks that’ll pave the road to freedom, but here are some ideas to get you started. out of Sight, Out of Mind. Why Technology Is So Addictive, and How You Can Avoid Tech BurnoutExpand It might seem great to have a device that can do Just about anything, but becoming reliant on a single device has its own set of problems. Consider this scenario: you take out your phone to check what time it is. You figure since your phone is already out of your pocket, you should check your email.

You end up spending a few minutes debating whether or not to reply to an email now or save it for later. It can go on and on from there, making what should be a pretty quick operation (checking the time) into a series of tasks you don’t necessarily need to do. It’s cases like these where it’s not always best be if you could train yourself to stay on task when pulling the phone from your pocket. More realistically, however, is training yourself to Just keep the phone in your pocket more often. Find other ways to check the time.

Decide to check your email a little less. If it gets problematic, don’t take the phone with you or turn it off when you go out at night. Technology exists to make things easier, but if you’re making your life more difficult by interacting with your devices too, often it ends up being more of a problem. Figure out ways you can avoid using your technology for everything and you’ll become accustomed to using it less. Stop Multitasking. Why Technology Is So Addictive, and How You Can Avoid Tech BurnoutExpand Related Debunking The Myth of Multitasking

In a fast-paced business culture of “get everything done yesterday,” it’s easy to admire and reward those busybusy people who always… Read… At this point it shouldn’t be surprising that multitasking is really Just a myth. While we can act like we’re doing several things at once, we’re really Just quickly shifting our attention between different activities. Listening to music while you run or watching television while you sort your mail are the sorts of tasks you can combine without a problem, but when more technology comes into the mix we can’t necessarily live by those rules.

Maybe you’ve tried to get through your email inbox while watching television. If you have, you’ve probably noticed the difficulty in concentrating on both. If the television is on for some added noise, you probably don’t have too many problems. If you were hoping to watch a show you enjoy while getting some work done, you probably found yourself pausing”frequently”during your work. Fortunately the technology in our time allows us to save TV for later and interact with the majority of our entertainment whenever we want.

A feeling of immediacy encourages us to think that everything as to happen right now, but that’s not the case. In general you will be more productive by doing one thing at a time. While doing anything while trying to pay attention to something else can be problematic, introducing tech can end up making matters worse because it increases the unfocused time you spend with your devices. This overlap creates a behavioral pattern of pulling out your technology whenever you feel like it. In doing so, you neglect the fragmentation it causes in your ability to focus on the one thing you really ought to be doing.

Bring this into a social context and we have the tech etiquette ssues previously discussed. If you want to form good habits with your technology, consider interacting with one device at a time to avoid multitasking and the poor prioritization of digital interaction over real interaction. Never Apologize Why Technology Is So Addictive, and How You Can Avoid Tech Burnout the phone/your text. I get bad reception at the gym. ” In that scenario, you’d have not only apologized for being unavailable during exercise but for your phone’s inability to get you the message immediately.

At some point we’ve probably all apologized for issing a call/text/email even when we’ve responded in a short amount of time. If this is a frequent action for you, you’re a slave to immediacy. Stop apologizing and welcome the freedom of responding when you can and when you feel like it. If you create the expectation that you’re not always going to respond at the precise moment of the call/email/text, people will begin to assume that you’ll respond when you can. You don’t want to neglect your friends, family, and coworkers by not responding for long periods of time, but you do want to let everyone know that you respond on your time.

Breaking free of these social obligations will help you feel fewer obligations to constantly check for messages. Get Organized Why Technology Is So Addictive, and How You Can Avoid Tech BurnoutExpand One effective way of dealing with information overload is actually organizing information. This may be an obvious one, but most of us think more about organization than actually doing it. You’re going to get organized at some point, so you might as well start now (if you haven’t, that is). Email is one of the toughest things to get under control and there are more solutions out there than you could ever eally try.

Google’s new Priority Inbox is a great new way to focus on the important messages in your inbox. A Chrome and Firefox extension called Boomerang lets you schedule when you send and receive emails. Communicating through speed appropriate channels rather than funneling everything through email can help, too. You can even offload distractions to an iPad, or another device you have, so you can focus on specific things on specific devices. However you organize your information, just be sure to evolve your system to fit changes in the way your information flows.

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