For teenagers (and not only for them), a smartphone is also an extension of the hand, and Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter are a natural habitat. Many parents worry about this, but should we be afraid at all? Some experts and psychologists say that this can be addictive without the young person’s knowledge. Gadget addiction is an uncontrolled use, abuse of gadgets that negatively affects the mental and physical health of a person, his social life. Gadget addiction is closely related to the concept of nomophobia. This term describes the fear of being without a mobile device or forgetting it. Nowadays, an increasing number of people take showers with their mobile phones. Some just try to take it under control, while others don’t even agree to consider it as a problem.
Nomophobia, What Is It?
Nomophobia, a recent phenomenon closely linked to the rise of new technologies, it is excessive anxiety at the idea of being without your mobile phone. This disorder is, for the moment, not listed by the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). However, it is considered by psychiatric researchers as a disease of the modern world, caused by virtual communication. It has increased with the generalization of smartphones.
There are widespread and sometimes addictive online practices. The Internet has given rise to new modes of playful interaction between people.
Online games and social networks are increasingly popular with all age groups. Now, some even prefer electronic interactions to traditional relational modes. Real addictions linked to screens have thus appeared. They come under so-called “behavioural” addictions, such as:
- Addiction to gambling,
- Compulsive shopping,
- Good or physical activity addictions,
- Sexual or emotional addictions.
Symptoms of Gadget Addiction
Here are some of the reasons why people are addicted to gadgets:
- Low concentration, low level of attention, and concentration.
- Problems with memory and other cognitive abilities.
- Problems with decision-making.
- Headache, blurred vision, neck and back pain.
- Constant anxiety.
- Deterioration of relationships with other people.
- Insomnia or any other sleep disturbance.
- Low socialization and adaptation.
Like all these behaviours, excessive use of screens prevents the person affected from devoting themselves to other activities and tends to cause relationship problems. Fortunately, this type of addiction is still rare. Nevertheless, vigilance is required, especially when it comes to young adults. The most common and best-studied form of screen addiction remains that of video games, particularly those played online, “massively multiplayer online role-playing games Playing Games or “MMORPG”).
Other Types of Addiction
But other types of addiction exist, linked for example to social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.). The person then becomes dependent on electronic exchanges with other Internet users. More rarely, some spend too much time browsing from one site to another.
Online Gambling and Gaming Addictions
Among the various on-screen practices, only video games have been the subject of quantitative research on their use. A person qualifies himself as a “big player ” when this activity occupies him, on average, more than 14 hours per week. At the same time, most studies speak of addiction from 30 hours of play per week, even if no consensus emerges on the diagnostic criteria for addictive behaviour. Based on this threshold, two studies (one American, the other Spanish) have shown that approximately 8.5% of gamers aged 8 to 18 can be considered addicted to video games. Some spend up to 15 hours a day playing online. Addictologists caring for these disorders mainly receive people aged 15 to 35. They agree that this addiction is particularly serious in people over 20, with adolescents being more likely to “move on” after a few weeks or months.
Another problem is gambling addiction. This problem is one, which is quite difficult to warn. As usual, people start very logically and with their own strategy and only later find themselves losing much more than winning. For example, many casinos nowadays offer free spins on Eye of Horus slot as a registration bonus, but no one reads all the wagering requirements of the bonus and therefore people get involved in the casino where it is difficult to wager your money and start depositing finally becoming addicted. So, in the case of avoiding addiction problems, it is essential to read carefully all the details of the bonus before applying it.
Some Benchmarks to Identify Screen Addiction
Be alert to the following symptoms, similar to those seen in most addictions:
- An inability to control the time spent in front of the screen, with the desire to spend more and more of it because it is the place where the person feels the best;
- An attitude of denial when a loved one points out to her that she devotes a lot of time to this activity;
- A feeling of emptiness or depression away from screens;
- Aggressiveness in the event of the impossibility of accessing the screens or the network;
- Lack of interest in any other activity, including occupations that are usually appreciated (e.g. schooling, work, time spent with family or friends). This situation can cause academic or professional difficulties;
- A loss of relationships and responsibilities.
In adolescents, be sure to make the difference between:
- On the one hand, a strong passing interest, which is an opportunity to experiment with new relational methods and relates to the development of the individual as a person;
- On the other hand, addiction is accompanied by a marked withdrawal into oneself, and the abandonment of other modes of exchange.
The Reasons Why Young People Are Addicted to Gadgets
The reasons why people become addicted to anything can be different, but as usual the main one is that some are not satisfied with their lives. Gadget addiction is a good option of running from reality and not thinking about how to improve your own life. But let’s look closer at the main reasons why people, especially young ones become addicted.
|An addiction favoured by loneliness and malaise||Often, people who talk about their addiction to screens or online games say they started to distract themselves from a malaise, following a crisis or a failure, even without an identified cause. Boredom, insomnia, not having a life plan and social isolation are also cited as triggering factors. In young adults, it can, in turn, get addicted to some online activities like online slot games which if it’s not well managed can be addictive and lead to debts. For children, the absence of a framework set by the parents or of family dialogue on the subject seems to contribute to the appearance of these disorders. The lack of opportunities for physical activity or sports, such as the absence of a friendly network, can also promote addiction to video games among the youngest. The consumption of psychoactive products during the game seems to contribute to the passage towards an excessive practice of this activity. People who play too much online have a background that predisposes them to experience several types of addictions during their lives.|
|Impact on social life and health||Screen addiction, especially if it involves online video games, can have potentially serious consequences. The time devoted to this occupation increases inexorably to satisfy a growing need, to the detriment of other activities essential to psychic balance. Some include family and friendly relations, diligent schooling, work in which one engages, etc. The person withdraws into himself, and this social isolation becomes an aggravating factor of his addiction.|
|Cool and modern graphics of the games||It is a very common reason, why many young people become addicted because of the modern graphics of the games that make them feel like being in the wonderland where everything is possible. Among the online casino games, the most popular are Cleopatra slots, it is where young people feel themselves like in the ancient Egipt, surrounded by pyramids and the queen itself. But many other slots also have their own audience and it tells us that variety is huge, which can make even more people addicted.|
Dependence on screens can also have effects on:
- Food (the person eats more and more badly, less and less or too much),
- Sleep (the disorders are sometimes at the origin of the addiction, but they can also be due to a disruption of the biological rhythm, after entire nights spent in front of the screen).
Away from screens, the person feels sadness, anxiety, or significant unease, and sometimes shows signs of aggression. For the person, the only way to relieve this discomfort is to be in front of a screen, and a vicious circle begins.
Tips for Reducing Addiction to Gadgets
The best way of not becoming addicted is to prevent this problem from happening. You should read the information about the problem, know the reasons why it occurs and make your life full and happy enough without any addictions. However, if it is impossible to get rid of gadgets in your life, here are some tips on how to reduce gadget addiction:
- If you have to use a computer at work all day, then take small breaks during which you walk and do a little exercise. This will help your brain and body get some rest.
- Turn off your mobile phone at night. If possible, do not use an alarm clock on your phone, otherwise, you will immediately start checking social networks when you wake up.
- Do not give children mobile phones and gadgets at a very early age. Gadgets are considered the new nipples. When children have nothing to do, they want to play with a smartphone. Sometimes parents use gadgets to calm their children down. This is a big mistake. This behaviour can lead to cognitive impairment in a child.
- It is important to set time limits on gadget use for yourself and your children. Set rules and time limits, and then learn to stick to them together.
- Instead of letting your child get addicted to online games or digging through mobile apps, get some good board games, puzzles, and books.
- If you or someone in your family suffers from a severe addiction to gadgets, seek professional psychological help.
- Try to read as many books as you can instead of using social media. In the beginning, it will be very difficult for you, as our attention becomes more and more scattered. You will have to make an effort to concentrate on the text, especially the artistic one. But after a few days, you will feel better and your concentration will improve.
- If reading books is too difficult or your eyes get tired when working with a computer, turn on the radio or podcasts.
- Try to use the available free time more effectively and for a specific purpose. Some time management techniques can help you with this.
- Try to motivate yourself and your family to do daily exercise. Do yoga, walk, or ride a bike. Not only does this help minimize your screen time, but it also helps improve family relationships.