Dr. Gregory Jantz

Technology Addiction is Real

October 31, 2014

We’ve all joked about the anxiety we’ve felt when our cell phone is misplaced and scoffed in disbelief at “life before the internet.” While these comments are often made lightly, the weight of technology addiction is starting to truly sink in.

Earlier this month, a U.S. Navy serviceman was treated for the first case of Google Glass addiction. The 31-year-old Navy serviceman initially began using Google Glass as a way to increase his productivity levels while listing inventories of convoy vehicles for the Navy. The high-tech tool, intended for better efficiency, quickly escalated into a debilitating addiction. The serviceman was said to use Google Glass for upwards of 18 hours each day, become excessively irritable when it was removed. He experienced impaired mental processing, dreamed as if viewing the world through Google Glass, and even developed “a notable, nearly involuntary movement of the right hand up to his temple area and tapping it with his forefinger,” which is the motion used to turn on the device.

This is the first publicized case of wearable technology addiction, and the American Psychiatric Association still does not consider Internet addiction to be a psychiatric disorder. Andrew Doan, one of the co-authors of this particular Google Glass study, argues that Internet and technology addiction is a real disorder that needs to be taken more seriously.

“People used to believe alcoholism wasn’t a problem – they blamed the person or the people around them,” Doan said. “It’s just going to take a while for us to realize that this is real.”

So, how do you know if you’ve crossed over that line from normal use to obsession, or from controller to being controlled? Perhaps the answer to whether or not you have control over technology in your life is to do a tech detox or a voluntary reduction in your use of technology. The more things you’re hooked into, the harder this will be, and the more anxiety it will produce. But if conducted in a thoughtful manner, a detox can help you release some of the negative buildup of your technology use and give you the break you need to make better choices going forward.

If, after you undergo this tech detox, you find yourself agitated, disoriented, unhappy and irritable, you may be experiencing a form of technology addiction. Technology addiction, if left untreated, can cause other disorders including gambling addiction, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

If you or someone you know is struggling with technology addiction, call The Center • A Place of HOPE at 1-888-771-5166 to speak with a team of treatment specialists. They will be able to help you evaluate your recovery options, and connect you with the help and support you need.