What Is Technology Addiction?

Technology addiction is a disorder that involves compulsive internet, smart device, or gaming console use. The condition can be caused by a genetic predisposition, psychological problems, and social issues. According to a recent survey, the prevalence of technology addiction in the United States and Europe is between 1.5% and 8.2%. 

A few types of technology-related addictions include:

Though technology addiction is not officially recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), it is considered a growing problem worldwide. According to a survey published by Pew Research in 2021, 31% of US adults reported being online, “almost constantly,” compared to 21% in 2015. Other surveys place technology addiction rates between 6% and 18.5%.

The lack of an official way of diagnosing technology addiction is a possible reason why prevalence rates vary. Still, the disorder is an undeniable growing problem. Fortunately, there are treatment options available for those battling technology addiction.

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Technology Addiction Treatment 

Technology addiction treatment varies per person and facility. Since the disorder is caused by various concerns like learning issues, reward deficiencies, and impulsivity, it can be challenging to treat. The lack of official recognition by the DSM-5 means there is no golden standard for technology addiction treatment. However, there are several treatment options recommended by medical professionals and researchers that have proven effective. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of structured psychotherapy also known as talk therapy. The short-term treatment helps patients learn how to spot inaccurate or negative thinking. Over time individuals develop the skills necessary to view and handle challenges healthily and efficiently. During sessions, patients work with a mental health professional like a psychotherapist or clinical social worker. 

For people who use technology to escape from crippling thoughts like lack of social or family support, cognitive behavioral therapy is an excellent treatment option for technology addiction. Patients can learn to positively restructure the way they use and view technology while in therapy. CBT is proven to be an effective treatment for various disorders like anxiety, depression, and addiction.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is a form of counseling therapy created to help patients battling substance use or behavioral disorders. The focus of MET is to overcome any ambivalence blocking the achievement of goals and rapidly motivating internal change. It is a collaborative and non-confrontational effort often used with other treatments like CBT or medication. During therapy, mental health professionals practice motivational interviewing to help patients identify their feelings during and right before technology use. Through this technique, individuals can discover how they rationalize or justify their compulsive technology use. Motivational interviewing also empowers people to recognize the consequences caused by their behavior. 

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a form of psychotherapy used to help people confront their fears. During treatment, individuals avoid using technology for increasing amounts of time in a safe environment. After several exposure sessions, patients slowly break the pattern of fear triggering their compulsive technology use. 

Exposure therapy is proven to help:

  • Decrease fear and avoidance 
  • Weaken unhealthy learned associations 
  • Teach individuals they are capable of change
  • Emotional regulation
  • Relearn new healthy beliefs 

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is a form of therapy that uses medication to help patients battling substance use and behavioral or mental health disorders. During MAT, a physician prescribes patients medications that can help with symptoms like depression or anxiety. Each MAT session is medically tailored and based on the individual’s unique needs. When used in combination with psychotherapy, MAT can successfully treat addiction and behavioral or mental health disorders.   

Take Action Against Technology Addiction

Though the DSM-5 does not officially recognize technology addiction, there is no denying that society is becoming more reliant on devices each day. To function in the modern world, most individuals need some form of technology.

Still, there is a distinction between healthy and compulsive technology use. As the emerging dilemma continues to spread over time, researchers and medical professionals may find a way for people to avoid developing a technology addiction. In the meantime, however, it is essential to stay vigilant and to monitor your technology use. If you are struggling with compulsive technology use and are considering treatment, click here to learn about your online therapy options.