Rutgers doctor: You may have unhealthy addiction to technology
Do you think you depend on technology too much, but can't help yourself?
Maybe you're legitimately addicted to your phone, or video games, or whatever has you staring at a screen more than you'd like to admit.
Technology addiction does exist, and has similar characteristics to substance abuse disorders and other behavioral addictions such as sex, gambling and exercise, according to Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Psychiatry Chair Dr. Petros Levounis.
Levounis voiced his concerns and expertise at a recent conference in Newark. This year's theme revolved around technology addiction, which would encompass an inescapable urge to perform actions such as gamble online, shop online, play video games, or scroll through social media for hours.
"These are behaviors that have become part of everyday life, and for the vast majority of people they are healthy conditions. But for a small number of people, they do get out of control," Levounis told New Jersey 101.5.
Identifying the line between an affection for technology and an addiction, though, can be difficult, he said. Addictions to other vices are much easier to spot.
Perhaps the most salient symptom of a technology addiction, Levounis suggested, is one's continued use despite knowledge of adverse consequences.
"I know it's bad for me, I know I should be cutting down, but I simply cannot help myself. That's a major red flag of problematic use of technology," Levounis said.
There are therapies available to help those who fear they're addicted to screen time. Ironically, online programs to fight the habit are being created.
Levounis said the fear of addiction should not overshadow the mental health benefits of technology use. The LGBTQ population in the past, for example, may have felt isolated in their situation. But now support, or someone dealing with similar thoughts, is just a click away.