Why is the idea of technology addiction nothing but a vastly exaggerated problem?
Why is the idea of “technology addiction” nothing but a vastly exaggerated problem?
The idea that “technology” may cause addiction and brain damage is likely nothing but a vastly exaggerated misconception. Although it’s not exactly a “myth” since the WHO has recognized it as a disease, many other organizations, such as the American Psychological Association and UNICEF have criticized this choice, arguing that “the decision was poorly informed by science.” Even some of the papers that allegedly found a correlation between technology use and suicide rates were later debunked by other studies based on larger samples of patients.
In a nutshell, some people overdo a wide range of activities, from shopping, to gaming, eating, having sex, and even using computers and smartphones. They do this because the pleasure centers of the brain release a substance known as dopamine every time we perform a fun activity. However, although modern medicine has recognized some conditions such as binge eating, compulsive gambling and shopping addiction, no one is going to demonize food or the necessity to buy stuff for this reason. Psychologist Christopher J. Ferguson put it into perspective: “People don’t think that depressed people who sleep all day have a ‘bed addiction.’”
The problem is inside these people’s head, as they have a propensity to develop addiction or just have poor coping skills. Technology itself is not more dangerous, nor more likely to be overused than any other enjoyable activity. To put things in perspective, food and video games increase baseline production of dopamine by 150% and 175%, respectively. Drugs like cocaine and amphetamine, however, increase it by 450% and 1,000% – definitely not on the same level. On the other hand, technology itself can be used to support some activities used to treat or help people suffering from addictive behaviors. Modern innovations such as online counseling, telehealth psychology services or even streaming live church services all have the potential to positively affect people’s lives.
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Written by Claudio Buttice
Dr. Claudio Butticè, Pharm.D., is a former clinical and hospital pharmacist who worked for several public hospitals in Italy, as well as for the humanitarian NGO Emergency. He is now an accomplished book author who has written on topics such as medicine, technology, world poverty, and science. His latest book is "Universal Health Care" (Greenwood Publishing, 2019).
A data analyst and freelance journalist as well, many of his articles have been published in magazines such as Cracked, The Elephant, Digital Journal, The Ring of Fire, and Business Insider. Dr. Butticè also published pharmacology and psychology papers on several clinical journals, and works as a medical consultant and advisor for many companies across the globe.