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A Common Sense Guide To Dealing With Digital Addiction

by ffffffffgsffffffffffffffffffffffhhhtwtyrqtrefgftttthwh6hw about a year ago in tech

Easy Step To Set Yourself Free

Phone addiction, internet addiction and social media addiction are the sub-groups that make up the broader concern that is called Digital Addiction. Like with every other addiction, Digital Addiction is when the excessive use of digital devices and platforms interfere with daily life — relationships, work and school.

It has been called Internet Addiction Disorder, Compulsive Internet Use (CIU), Problematic Internet Use (PIU), or iDisorder. No matter what you choose to call it, it is still a destructive condition.

It was first satirically theorized as a disorder as early as 4 years after the birth of the internet, in 1995, by Dr. Ivan Goldberg, who compared it to pathological gambling. The idea that it meets the criteria for an addiction was first proposed by Kimberly Young, in her 1996 research paper. Since then, it has rapidly gained ground and has been given serious attention by many researchers, mental health counselors, and doctors as a truly debilitating disorder.

What Causes Digital Addiction?

As with any other disorder, digital addiction is a dependency disorder that affects the pleasure center of the brain. It’s a trigger-action-reward-reinforcement loop. Over time, the triggers, the reward and the reinforcement relatively stay the same but more and more of the activity is needed to induce the same pleasurable response, creating a dependency.

To address this dependency, there is need for a lifestyle change rather than a treatment. So ask yourself, What lifestyle changes can you make to tackle internet addiction?

Set Clear And Realistic Goals

Due to the access, affordability, anonymity, convenience, escape and over pervasiveness of the internet and digital connectedness of everything, it is not pragmatic to advocate for the total abstinence from these digital tools. This should not be the goal of any interventions because it is most likely not to work. We are living in a world where even fridges have become smart and you can do your groceries on them or watch a movie or browse the internet. Instead, the goal is to abstain from problematic applications and to use digital devices and platforms in a controlled and balanced manner.

Be Digitally Literate

The issue is not only with problematic technology or within the individual, but also with the digital organisations and the environments they create that are shaping the individual’s behavior, often through methods that are intentionally exploitative or subconscious.

People need to understand the way the technology works — and works on them — and the methods that are being used to grab and fix their attention. If you know the saying, If it’s too good to be true, it often is; you will know and understand what click-bait is and will most likely not be lured in. The more digital aware you are, the less likely you are to be exploited or manipulated. In turn, it means the more control you will have on how you utilise any platform.

Migrate Some Digital Activities Back To Analog

Digital and analog are ways of transferring and storing data. The natural world is completely analog. Analog data or information in the natural world is transferred using waves. Digital signals are different. A digital signal is the only language that computers really understand — pulses of electricity representing ones and zeros.

In other words, migrating some of your digital activities back to analog simply means switching off your devices from time to time. Enjoy nature and things that do not need electricity to function. If you are a writer consider investing in a typewriter or a simple notebook in which to jot down your ideas. Buy and wear a watch for your time. The idea is for you to look less on a screen; the less you look at a screen, the less you will be tempted to interact with it.

Find every opportunity you can to speak to people in person, wherever possible, rather than calling or texting. This is more personal and intimate.

Put Up A ‘Do Not Disturb Sign’!

Wisdom says do not mix business with pleasure. If you do this, business will suffer. What wisdom rarely tells you, though, is do not mix family time with business. If you do this, the family will suffer. One easy way to disconnect and create a work-life balance is to have two contacts. When you are at home, unless it is important and urgent, it can wait until you get back to work. Set your business phone or contact to “vibrate”, “silent”, “do not disturb” or “low volume” and only filter through important and urgent calls only.

You can achieve this on almost any phone and make it so that when select contacts call you, the phone always rings on loud even if the device is set to “vibrate”, “silent”, “do not disturb” or “low volume”. This makes sure that you have the space you need to spend time with your loved ones without any disturbances. While affording you the knowledge that if it’s important and urgent enough, people will always get through to you.

Respect No Mobile Activities And Places

Driving up to a car filling station or walking into the ICU of a hospital and seeing a no-mobile-use-allowed sticker reminds us that there are places and times where you just have to switch off. These two examples are the extremes where not doing so may, in some cases, mean the end of your life or someone else’s. However, there are plenty of everyday activities, places and times in which we must just disconnect.

When you are driving for example. If you are constantly on the road and you don’t know most of the routes, consider investing in a GPS device whose sole purpose is to just show you the directions.

When having family time or meals, it is time to bond. Even when you are alone, studies have shown that eating while looking at a screen, whatever it may be, wiil often make you lose track of what you are eating and you end up overindulging. In the long run, this may aid in or lead to weight gain and obesity.

Wean Yourself

Since digital addiction is a dependency disorder, you will need to wean yourself off it. Take everything suggested above and implement it and the easiest way to do this is gradually — over several weeks, months or even longer.

Start by substituting one online activity with an offline activity, like getting a hobby or exercising. When one offline activity is going well, substitute another online activity, and so on. Continue this way, substituting one online activity at a time. If you don’t find an offline activity as interesting or captivating, drop it and try something different.

As with babies, always remember that weaning is a natural stage in a baby’s development. It does not mean stopping to feed completely but stopping dependency. Ridding yourself of digital addiction doesn’t mean you have to stop using digital devices or platforms, it means you stop your dependency on them and you change how you interact with them to a more controlled, balanced and mature manner.

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