Technology addiction has received more attention recently among psychiatrists due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that is forcing many people to live and interact virtually. A Rutgers professional and several students shared their thoughts on technology use during this time.
“We presume that all forms of technological dependence … increased during (the pandemic), but (we are not) sure whether the relationship between pathological use and healthy use of technology also increased,” said Petros Levounis, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, Rutgers New Jersey School of Medicine.
Some particular addictions that psychiatrists have taken note of during the pandemic include Internet games, online auctions and social media, among others, he said.
While a general increase in these behaviors was seen during the pandemic, Levounis said the only technology addiction that is about to be officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental health disorder is addiction to online gambling. .
“Internet gaming addiction specifically had to go through several iterations until we were pretty sure it really was a disorder,” Levounis said. “Other addictions to technology have varying degrees of evidence behind them. ”
He described technology addiction as similar to behavioral addictions such as gambling, sex, exercise, and food addiction. An important indicator of addiction is continued use despite knowledge of negative consequences.
Although the initial impression was that young people would be the most susceptible to technology addiction, Levounis said research has shown that there are no specific demographics affected. Rather, he said it’s the kind of tech addiction that can appeal to certain demographics more than others.
Several Rutgers students spoke about his experiences with using technology during the pandemic.
One student, Diana Fine, an arts and sciences high school, said she developed some social media addiction during the pandemic. She said that during her 40th, all she could really do was attend virtual classes and use social media.
“(Now) I try to limit myself to a few hours, like taking a break in between,” she said. “I try to get as far away as possible because I know it’s bad for me.”
Cependant, Claire Darman, a junior of l’École des arts et des sciences, to declare that I will use the technology qu’un peu plus pendant the pandemie qu’avant la pandemie, qui était d’environ 3 à 4 heures per day.
Darman said she views her technological engagement as healthy and she doesn’t feel the need to take the same precautions as Fine. However, she said she found it unhealthy for technology to be used to hurt other people.
Levounis noted that reliance on technology affects only a small portion of the population, and while technology use has increased during the pandemic, most of that technology engagement is healthy.
“Watch out for the two main red flags,” she said. “Use technology more than you bargained for and lie to your loved ones about your use of technology. ”
People who are concerned about addiction to technology should be evaluated by a professional, Levounis said. Additionally, she said there could be an underlying condition that results in addiction, with depression, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or anxiety disorders often being underlying causes.
“There are absolutely people who are addicted to technology without any other psychiatric disorders, but for people who are doubly diagnosed … very often it is a two-way street,” she said.
With time and research advances, she said knowledge about technology addictions will increase and treatment will be more accurate. While there is currently no drug to treat technology addiction, behavioral therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and motivational interviewing are current treatment options.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future we find things particularly unique to tech addictions that might require slightly more sophisticated interventions.