Modern technology has shaped the world for decades now. It has pervaded every aspect of our daily lives, from work, communication to even entertainment. This has been especially true over the past decade, with the rise of the smartphone. As consumer technology has become cheaper and more accessible, adoption has grown exponentially. In many ways, this has been a boon for countless people, providing opportunities that simply weren’t possible before. Now, an overwhelming majority of the world has access to phones, computer and other devices which rule the modern world. However, just like any other thing of similar scale, technology has significant downsides that must be identified and analysed. A recent study from GfK has found that nearly 34% of global Internet users exhibit signs of technology addiction and has trouble disconnecting from it.
Let us have a closer look at this troubling trend, its causes and potential ramifications.
People Under The Age Of 40 Are Addicted To Technology
The study finds a direct correlation between age and technology addiction. The most acute case found to be suffered by technology addiction was teenagers between 15-19, with a whopping 44% finding it difficult. Young adults between 20-29 were not too far behind, 41% of them agreed that they are finding it difficult to disconnect. The case is similar with people aged 30-39, where 39% of respondent exhibited a reluctance to take a break from tech. Perhaps, predictively people in the 60+ age bracket had the easiest time breaking free of technology, with only 15% having trouble doing so.
Meanwhile, the percentage of people who do not find it difficult to take a break from technology follows an opposite trend. This category is led people aged more than 60, with 33% having no difficulty to take the break from technology. On the opposite end of the spectrum, very few people aged between 20 and 29 years find it easy to disconnect; even more so than those aged between 15 and 19 years. This is likely because this age group also utilises these devices for work-related activities besides just communication and entertainment.
China Suffering From An Epidemic Of Tech Addiction
Of course, like most addiction phenomena, percentages vary wildly from country to country. China, Brazil and Argentina were found to be the most addicted countries, with 43%, 42% and 40% of respondents, respectively, are finding it difficult to unplug. On the other hand, Netherlands, Japan, Germany and South Korea had their addictions under control, with only 17%, 17%, 19% and 20% of people find it difficult to unplug. If we factor in the percentage of people who don’t find it difficult to take a break from technology, Germany comes out on top with 35%. Netherlands and Belgium follow them with 30% and 28%, respectively.
China and Argentina perform exceptionally poorly here, with a mere 5% and 16%, respectively finding it easy to unplug. This stands to highlight the severe problem in China. Their cases of digital addiction are widespread and sometimes extreme. People suffering from technology addiction are found to be on their devices 24/7, subsisting on only one meal a day. They even avoid going to the toilet, with some going as far as to wear diapers! This is making these people, a significant proportion of whom are children, devoid of basic communication and household skills. In fact, the situation is so dire, that many people have had to be enrolled in special rehabilitation problem that focuses on treating technology addictions.
As technology addiction is still not recognised as a medical ailment in many countries, research into it is limited. We do, however, have some information about what triggers such an addiction.
- FOMO – FOMO or the “Fear Of Missing Out” is a common phenomenon where people feel the need to be connected to feel included and up to date. This is especially the case with social media and one of the biggest drivers of social media addiction.
- Feeling Of Achievement And Competency – Everyone wants to feel competent and powerful. Often people use technology, and video games in particular as an escape from the real world and to gain that feeling of achievement.
- Easy Access – Devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. are ubiquitous today. Children have access to them from a very young age now, which creates a lifelong dependency.
- Dopamine – Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is released by the body as a “reward”. It is often associated with activities like drugs, gambling, food and sex. Studies have found that technology use can often trigger dopamine release.
There is no doubt that technology addiction is a growing menace, and something we must tackle as soon as possible. It has some very real and dire consequences. The biggest side effect of the ongoing trend is the deteriorating health of the individual. Tech addiction often leads to a neglect of basic healthy nutrition, exercise and hygiene habits. This can cause a whole medley of long term and life threatening diseases. It can also lead to eyestrain and poor posture.
Another common consequence is social isolation due to a lack of social skills. People addicted to technology rarely interact with “real” people, and this can lead to depression and even suicidal tendencies.
Of course, just like any addiction, tech addiction is also devastating to a person’s daily life and career/academics. Spending too much time on devices can often lead to unsatisfactory academic or job performance. It can also result in degrading relationships with to those near to us.