I have been involved in digital technology education well over 20 years. In that time I have been involved in teaching technology from adult education centres, to High schools through to degrees.
During those years I have seen some incredibly positive digital technology developments introduced into the classroom. But, as with every upside there is also a downside and the increased use of technology has been blamed for some pretty nasty mental health issues all linked to something called ‘internet addiction’.
The term internet addiction is not a new term and has been around since the 1990’s. It was first used by Dr. Kimberley Young. Despite the term being around for over 20 years, many people still have little understanding of what digital addiction is, what the symptoms are, how it impacts on a persons life or those around them.
The information age has seen a massive growth in the availability of digital devices and information being created and stored. That growth has continued as we shift from the information age profile to an experience based profile, which has prompted the drive for apps like Snapchat, Instagram and TicTok.
These apps thrive on the video experience and they know that a video is more appealing both visually and emotionally. Its hard not to look, especially for younger user. The more technology dependant we become the more chance we have of developing an addiction to technology.
As I said earlier, there have been some incredibly positive experiences developed via technology. Just look back at the pandemic. Grandparents unable to travel have used apps like messenger or skype to connect with families across the world. Research has also shown the use of the internet can actually help prevent cognitive decline in older people.
The smartphone introduction in 2009 and our connect anywhere, anytime lifestyle has it drawbacks and our behaviour is being influenced. Not just in the classroom but in all walks of life. Our habits are changing to compensate for our digital companions. We are seeing large increases in people suffering from mental health issues, with young being particularly more at risk. Research now shows there are some clear links between poor mental health and excessive use of technology.
In 2017 I started to study how technology impacts on human behaviour and discovered so many traits of internet addiction appear, not just in the young people I teach but also in many adult behaviours. Some countries have become so concerned about the impact of excessive use of technology can have on our mental health they have registered digital addiction as a mental illness. One of the first countries to do this was China.
Common issues we develop from technology addiction can lead to poor concentration, lack of empathy, anxiety, low self esteem, impulsive, obsessive behaviours and poor sleep patterns. In 2017 I took the opportunity to study Hypnosis, becoming a certified Hypnotherapist later that year. During this course I was introduced to the concept of mindfulness.
Why mindfulness and hypnosis? Both are very similar in that they require some intense concentration eg meditation. The main difference is that when people use hypnosis, they tend to have a specific goal in mind, something that will improve them and their quality of life in some way. Where as meditation is more of a discipline that sees the best results when practiced consistently over time. More importantly, if used correctly both have the power to change our habits and rewire our brain.
The people who develop technology understand how much of a powerful manipulator it can be and we the poor user are often hooked before we know it. Unfortunately, technology is not going away and we have to learn to live with it. We have to develop new thinking skills to change our habits and build resistance to the information overload we face everyday. It will mean breaking the hold digital devices have on lives and this will require some changes to our lifestyle.
Change is never easy and will not happen quickly but with a little perseverance and knowledge we can make small changes to our lives one step at a time to gradually lessen the impact of digital technology.
That is essentially what Digital Wellness Hub is all about, learning to create a little digital free breathing space in your life.
Regular contributor to www.selfgrowth.com.
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