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:
- Smartphone addiction
- Video game addiction
- Online gambling addiction
- Social media addiction
- Internet dependence
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.
Common Questions About Rehab
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 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, monitor our technology use, and seek help if we feel it may be compulsive.
Suzette Gomez earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida. Her desire to help others led her to a Pre-medical track with a focus on psychological and social development. After graduation, she pursued her passion for writing and began working as a Digital Content Writer at Recovery Worldwide LLC. With her background in medicine, Suzette uses both science and the arts to serve the public through her writing.
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- American Psychological Association. (2021). What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? Retrieved on July 19 2021, from: https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral
- Hilarie Cash, Cosette D Rae, Ann H Steel, and Alexander Winkler. (2012). Internet Addiction: A Brief Summary of Research and Practice. Retrieved on July 19 2021, from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480687/
- Manoj Kumar Sharma and Thamil Selvan Palanichamy. (2018). Psychosocial interventions for technological addictions. Retrieved on July 19 2021, from: http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5844169/
- Andrew Perrin and Sara Atske. (2021). About three-in-ten U.S. adults say they are ‘almost constantly’ online. Retrieved on July 19 2021, from: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/03/26/about-three-in-ten-u-s-adults-say-they-are-almost-constantly-online/
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Motivational Enhancement Therapy (Alcohol, Marijuana, Nicotine). Retrieved on July 19 2021, from: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-therapies/motivational-enhancement-therapy
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2021). Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). Retrieved on July 19 2021, from: https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment
Certified Addiction Professional
David embarked on his journey into sobriety in June of 2005, which led him to his current career path as a Certified Professional Addiction Recovery Coach in private practice in Greater Nashville. David is also a public speaker and the author of two books. David is cohost of the weekly Positive Sobriety Podcast, as well as being a frequent contributor to various articles and recovery based materials. As a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), David works closely with area treatment centers, recovery orientated nonprofit organizations, as well as being a keynote speaker for various recovery-focused events.
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All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.