Nobody is without a smartphone nowadays. For the younger generation, it has become as important to their lives as air and water. In South Korea, 72 percent of children have a smartphone by the time they turn 12. And more than half of millennials experience anxiety when they can’t check their devices for more than 15 minutes. The addiction to technology is so prevalent, it’s now a cause for worry.
What is it about technology that makes people so addicted to them, particularly smartphones since they are so handy to have anywhere they go? According to Adam Alter, NYU Stern School of Business professor, part of it is the “uncertain rewards that you get from any interaction with online media,” the comments and likes, the online engagement. A surprising revelation is that tech giants (the late Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Zuckerberg) limit their kids’ use of these gadgets, and advise them to “go out and play.” They probably know the damage that addiction to technology of their creations can do to people, young and adults alike.
It seemed as if the people producing tech products were following the cardinal rule of drug dealing: never get high on your own supply. – Adam Alter in his book, “Irresistible”
Social media is the millennials’ addiction, as marijuana was to their parents. In both cases, too much of it is detrimental, as several studies attest to. Here are the:
Harmful effects of addiction to technology
It diminishes your productivity and can affect your work or school performance.
You don’t get a good night’s sleep because you are constantly checking your phone. Thus, in school or at the office, you are lethargic, your memory is weakened, and you can’t focus on what you’re doing.
You may have slept well but at work or in school, you’re always checking your Instagram or using your device, leaving you less time to finish your work.
Related: How Sleep Can Help with Emotional Regulation
It negatively affects your mental well-being.
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At times when you can’t check your cell phone (the boss is talking to you, you’re in a place where connectivity is poor, you’re in a meeting,) you experience episodes of anxiety. Recurring frequently, it can lead to chronic anxiety.
You see your friends on social media having the times of their lives, or travelling to exotic places, and you feel unhappy and discontented with your own boring (you think) life.
You don’t appreciate the people that really matter in your life and you are oblivious to your surroundings.
Since your attention is always on your device, you neglect to interact with your family, significant other, co-employees, and people in your community. At the dining table, or out with friends, there’s no talking and bonding and catching up on the events of daily life. Relationships become strained and depression sets in.
You become less mindful since you’re not aware of your environment. Aside from missing the sights of beautiful things or feeling soul-stirring moments, you’re also exposing yourself to danger. People have fallen into manholes or got involved in accidents because they were focused on their phones.
Related: Why Are Relationships So Hard?
Benefits of Taking a Break from Technology
You learn mindfulness and become an overall better person.
Away from your device, you develop a more heightened awareness of yourself and your emotions, and the environment around you. Becoming more mindful is a conscious effort but it would be very difficult to develop if you didn’t detach yourself from technology. Mindfulness allows you to be in the present moment and aware of what’s going on in a nonjudgmental manner. It leads to kindness and compassion, gratitude for who, what and how you are, making you a more helpful and generous person.
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You improve your relationships.
Addiction to technology usually affects family relationships more than ties at work or with friends. By giving your time and attention to your parents, your partner, and your kids, you get to dialogue with them, know them better and find ways to help them fulfill their needs and desires. In turn, they too will reciprocate the love and kindness you are showing.
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You improve your health.
You sleep well when you don’t feel the need to check your emails or social media participation in the middle of the night. When your biological clock is in rhythm, you minimize the risk of other medical conditions. As your connection with the important people in your life deepens, you adopt a more positive attitude, making you a healthier and happier person.
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