Proof of Technology Addiction

Yes, it is a drug.

By: Tim Bryce – Columnist for News Talk Florida

hen I learned of a new study warning of the addictive power of technology, I was pleased.  I have been describing the adverse effects of technology since 2007, arriving at the conclusion in 2011 that Personal Technology is a drug with addictive powers.

Now it appears there is finally some scientific data to confirm my theory.  The first is a report in the August 27th issue of the NY Post by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, who contends technology raises dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with rewards, as much as sex.  He goes on to say, “Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex – which controls executive functioning, including impulse control – in exactly the same way that cocaine does.”

Kardaras is also the author of “Glow Kids:  How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids-and How to Break the Trance Hardcover,” released August 9, 2016 by St. Martin’s Press.

He goes on to cite Dr. Peter Whybrow, a director of neuroscience at the University of California, and Chinese researchers, claiming screens are like “electronic cocaine” or “digital heroin” to young children, and once they have reached the addictive levels their personalities change, such as becoming increasingly depressed, anxious and aggressive.

I have mentioned numerous studies over the years which support this thesis, but three in particular are worth noting:

*  In 2005, a King’s College London University study by Dr. Glenn Wilson found workers distracted by technology suffer a greater loss of IQ than if they had smoked marijuana.

*  In 2010, “The World Unplugged,” was a global media study led by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA), University of Maryland.  As part of their conclusions, the report commented on how students in the study handled the lack of media (meaning electronic devices):

“Going without media during ‘The World Unplugged’ study made students more cognizant of the presence of media – both media’s benefits and their limitations.  And perhaps what students became most cognizant of was their absolute inability to direct their lives without media.

The depths of the ‘addiction’ that students reported prompted some to confess that they had learned that they needed to curb their media habits.  Most students doubted they would have much success, but they acknowledged that their reliance on media was to some degree self-imposed AND actually inhibited their ability to manage their lives as fully as they hoped – to make proactive rather than reactive choices about work and play.”

Like anything, if used in moderation, technology holds no ill-effects.  However, we have turned it into a 24/7 extension of our lives and can no longer imagine living without these devices.  Because it offers instant gratification, it has become a new form of pacifier which we scream for when it is taken away from us.

*  Also in 2010, the “Digital Pandemic” was authored by Mack R. Hicks, Ph.D. which provided a fascinating thesis on the effect of technology on our youth.

In all of these studies, the authors concluded technology exhibits the same type of addictive powers as chemical dependency or, at the very least, gambling which also does not require drugs in the usual sense.  Actually, the parallel between technology and gambling addiction is quite remarkable, and can be just as devastating.  However, it appears Dr. Kardaras’ paper and book finally provides the hard data needed to prove the legitimacy of technology addiction.

In terms of technology, perhaps the biggest difference between the 20th century and the 21st is how technology has changed the pace of our lives.  We now expect to communicate with anyone on the planet in seconds, not days.  We expect information at our fingertips.  We expect to be up and walking shortly after a hip or knee replacement.  Basically, we take a lot for granted.

Let me leave you with one last thought; Life doesn’t emulate art, it emulates technology.  Think about it, are we becoming more robotic in our thinking?  Do we rely on technology to accommodate the thinking processes of the brain?  If so, then researchers like Dr. Kardaras are absolutely correct.

“As the use of technology increases, social skills decrease.”
Bryce‘s Law

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a freelance writer and management consultant located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. As an avid writer and speaker, Tim discusses everything from business and management, to politics and morality, to systems and technology, and our ever changing world. His columns are educational and entertaining, discussing the things we tend to take for granted or overlook in our walk through life. He has published over a thousand such articles. In addition to his columns, Tim's audio segments are syndicated on the radio and in podcasts. He is also a former correspondent for the Tampa Tribune. As a management consultant, Tim specializes in systems and technology. He has traveled extensively around the world training and supporting a variety of companies of all sizes and shapes, from the boardroom to the trenches. Tim has authored several books on a variety of computer and management related subjects including "The IRM Revolution: Blueprint for the 21st Century" which was on the Top Ten list in Japan, and penned the "PRIDE" Methodologies for IRM." More recently, he published a four volume set entitled, "Bryce’s Uncommon Sense Series." Tim graduated from Ohio University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications. His blog can be found at: timbryce.com E-mail: [email protected] Twitter: @timbryce