Continually checking your email, texting, surfing the web or playing online games can be as destructive as other types of addictions like substance abuse or gambling. The brain can become conditioned to the need for the instant gratification that technology offers. After a while, this could turn into a physical need. A digital preoccupation can become unhealthy if it starts affecting your real-life relationships.
Could you have a digital dependency?
If you’re compulsively viewing your screen in the presence of others, or substituting social media interactions for real-life interactions, you can miss out on meaningful conversations and the deep closeness with others that supports positive mental health. Here’s what you should know.
You may have a digital dependency if you…
- Feel that something is missing when you can’t go online
- Hear complaints from friends and family about your time spent online
- Spend more time online than you intended
- Your online use interferes with your job, social activities or responsibilities
- Frequently choose to spend time online over going out with other people
- Hide, lie or become defensive about online activities
- Feel a heightened sense of euphoria while online
- Feel depressed, restless, moody or nervous offline and okay again when you’re online
What can you do?
These tips can help you curb your digital technology use so it enhances your life rather than detracts from it.
- Silence your cell phone or leave it behind when attending events or during outings or activities
- Unplug completely for a set amount of time each day
- Make screen time off limits when you are with friends and family
- Make meals technology-free as a chance to reconnect with others at the table
- Don’t take your phone to bed or use it as an alarm clock
- Turn off your cell phone at work
- Avoid responding immediately to every text
- Each week, have an entire technology-free day and engage in an enjoyable activity