Tag Archives: technology addiction

Tech Addiction is Real!

We have a problem. We are addicted to our technology. Its that feeling you get when you can’t find your cellphone? Or you can’t get your computer or tablet to connect to the Internet? Or when you have not checked your Facebook page in a few hours or days? Tech addiction is real!

Black parents make the mistake of permitting unsupervised use of technology by children and teens. Far too many parents, black and white, use phones and tablets to babysit young children and ignore a teenager who is constantly on his or her cellphone. That is the start of tech addiction in our children. According to Psychology Today troubling studies have connected delayed cognitive development in children with extended exposure to electronic media.

Apple, the most successful consumer tech company on earth is feeling the heat. Two of Apple’s biggest investors, controlling $2 billion in Apple shares, are pushing the company to curb growing smartphone addiction among children.   The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalsTRS)  and Jana Partners LLC, sent an open letter to Apple urging the company to take a  “defining role” in turning the tech industry’s attention toward the health and development of the next generation of tech users. The group said the move is “both good business and the right thing to do.”  In the letter the group said, “There is a developing consensus around the world, including Silicon Valley, that the potential long-term consequences of new technologies needs to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility.”

According to a report from Common Sense Media 50 percent of teens age, 12 to 18, reported feeling addicted to their mobile devices. Fifty-nine percent of parents agreed their teens were addicted. 

The is most frightening fact about tech addiction is that designers and software developers intentionally designed these products to be as addictive as possible. A model they may have picked up from cigarette makers.

Tech and social media addiction works very much like any other addictive drug on the brain. When using chemical drugs the brain’s pleasure centers are stimulated causing the user to want more until the body becomes dependent on the drug to feel normal. Researchers at the UCLA brain mapping center performed tests on teens using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner to monitor brain activity when using social media. Researchers found certain regions of the brain became activated by “likes.” The fMRI scans revealed that the part of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens, or the brain’s reward circuitry, was especially stimulated when teens were shown that their photos received a high number of likes. Scientist believe that this could inspire them to use social media more often.


Apple’s chief design officer, Jony Ive, has admitted that using your iPhone too much could be considered “misuse.”


According to research by Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, trends in teenage mental health began to appear in 2011 and 2012 as smartphones became  commonplace among teens.  “There was a doubling in the suicide rate and tripling in emergency room admissions of self-harm among young girls,” Twenge said. “And there was a 50 percent increase in the clinical depression rate.”

Social media addiction is another serious threat to mental health.  Tech executives and the people who practically invented social media have spoken out in recent months about the dangers and harmful effects of what has become an age of Internet junkies. This group of former Apple, Facebook and Google employees have banded together to form an anti-tech addiction coalition called the Center for Humane Technology.

Since 2014 the center has been working to raise awareness of tech addiction. Aptly named “The Truth About Tech,” the campaign is designed to educate parents, teachers and students about the harmful and addictive effects of technology. The coalition is especially focused on the endless hours teens and children spend with their eyes glued to a glowing screen. This obsession  can lead to to anxiety, depression, shortened attention spans, sleep deprivation and negatively affect a healthy social development of teens who are already in the grips of adolescent insecurity.

Social media addiction is not just a young person’s addiction. Far from it. Plenty of adults have become addicted to constant texting and wasting hours on Facebook. So much so that Facebook and social media has become a workplace issue. Employees have been found out and terminated for sexually harassing co-workers on social media, sharing company secrets or criticizing their supervisors. Not to mention wasting millions of hours annually.

According to research performed by CareerBuilder technology is the leading cause of lost productivity in the workplace. The poll revealed that 24 percent of workers admitted spending at least an hour a day on personal email, texts and personal calls. According to the poll the biggest time wasters are doing the following;

  • Talking on the cell phone and texting – 50%
  • Gossiping – 42%
  • On the Internet – 39%
  • On social media – 38%

Like all addictions it makes it way into the homes of those affected. According to Common Sense Media 36 percent of parents and teens argue about the use of technology. 

According to AddictionsExperts.com these are the symptoms of technology addiction;

  • The need to be on a piece of technology during all waking hours. An addict may even take a phone to bed at night, or use a mobile device while in the bathroom.
  • Talking incessantly about technology and spending copious amounts of money on the latest equipment. For technology addicts, having new technology is more important than paying the mortgage.
  • Using technology to avoid social situations. The technology addict may reduce the amount of time he or she deals with people by focusing on technology instead.
  • Playing games online for hours and hours, even if your family members and friends are begging you to stop. When you don’t play the games, you feel like you’re missing something.
  • Constantly checking social media pages for updates, as well as making updates about even mundane, day-to-day activities.
  • Feeling “left out” when technology isn’t available, and borrowing others’ devices to check in.





Breaking Smartphone Addiction

canstockphoto16351660Breaking smartphone addiction is a serious issue. There are several technology addictions that are becoming recognized by professional psychologist. Black people’s lives are being destroyed in much the same way cocaine or alcohol destroys lives. We just can’t stop doing it.

Everyday African-Americans get fired from jobs because they can’t stay away from their cell or smartphones. These people can’t break away from a texting conversation, constantly check their email, or must surf the web every few minutes. And guess what, sooner or later the boss has seen enough and they get fired.

Other people can’t resist responding to a text even when they are driving and end up killing themselves or someone else because they weren’t focused on the road.

Men and women create strain in their  marriages or relationships because of cell phones and the Internet. Internet porn addiction has become common among men of all races. For more on Internet addiction read this.

But back to breaking smartphone addiction.  The average person unlocks their the phone 100 to 150 times a day. Make that 100 to 150 interruptions a day. But there are ways to break your smartphone addiction if you really try.  Here are a few tips.

Turn off notifications. Set your cell phone not to vibrate or ring when you are working. Same goes for your apps, Twitter, email, Facebook posts, Instagram,  whatever. On iPhones use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature for everything except for your spouse or children in case of emergency. You should do the same for your Android phone. Make a habit of checking your phone only on your break or lunch. It takes practice and determination but it could save your job or marriage.

Uninstall apps. You need to go cold turkey of you can’t wean yourself off slowly. Uninstall all unnecessary apps. Ask yourself what you really need daily? Start by focusing on apps that deliver websites and other online services to your smartphone.  Do you really need Facebook and Twitter on your phone? You already have them on your laptop or tablet? But I pray you don’t have them on your work computer! Do you really need  email on the go? Practice waiting until you’re back at your computer to check Pinterest or Instagram? With a smartphone, if you get in a bind, you can always access the web. 

Budget your time on your smartphone. Start with an hour a day. That means no games, no social media and short conversations. Limit anything on your smartphone that takes away time from other, more worthwhile pursuits; like finishing that report you boss asked for. Re-build your attention span by deleting apps that can interrupt you.

Removing duplicate apps means fewer notifications and fewer updates to install. You can also  free up storage space on your phone and reduce the clutter on your home screen. You might want to run an audit of all the apps on your smartphone. This is a good time to decide what you need and  don’t need. Once you delete an app if you haven’t re-installed it in a month, you never needed in the first place. You can also reduce the amount of information you broadcast by reducing the apps on your phone. Nearly all of them spy on you in one way or another.

Make use of airplane mode. Not only does this mode eliminate notifications but you can still use the camera and access any files you have on the device.

Airplane mode also blocks SMS messages and phone calls making you unavailable in the event of an emergency. You need to consider that.

Airplane mode also make a difference in your quality of sleep. Instead of dealing with dozens of notifications, beeps, buzzes and other distractions you can enjoy a good night sleep and a easy morning wake up. When its time to deal with the world again  you just tap a couple of buttons and the rat race begins. Keep in mind that the light from a phone or tablet has been proven to disturb normal sleep patterns.

Use a quitting app. That’s right there’s an app for breaking your smartphone addiction. How ironic! Besides setting your smartphone not to interrupt you there are apps that can monitor your mobile activity. These apps can limit your usage if you need that help. One of popular apps is known as  BreakFree. Its available for Apple and Android devices. The app provides a detailed breakdown about which apps are taking up most of your time and how often you’re checking your smartphone or tablet.

Quitting apps can also disable some or all notifications. They allow you to set an auto reply to text messages to let people know that you’re  taking a break. Beeps, and buzzes and the Internet can be disabled if needed. You can set specific times when you don’t want to be disturbed. BreakFree can also remind you of your current addiction level if you desire a constant reminder.

Other quitting apps alternatives include StayOnTask and AppDetox to help wean you off that technology addiction.  Both are available only for Android devices.

When all else fails; hide the damn thing! Or use any barrier you can think of to prevent you from checking your phone incessantly. Implement a complicated unlock code or password is one way to make it difficult to use that device. If you are at work leave your phone in a drawer or in the car. Promise yourself you will only check two or three times a day. At home, you could do the same if you want to give your undivided attention to a sports game, a movie or the spouse and family.

We live in a world of technology and mobility. But we also live with other people, some very important to us. We also have other fairly serious obligations that require our attention as well. If we fail to balance these things properly the results have proven to be disastrous. Technology addiction has become as dangerous as drugs and alcohol.

Now you know.