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Quitting Technology And Social Media Addictions Is Harder Than Quitting Cigarettes

by Krystina Murray |  ❘ 

The Difficulty of Quitting Technology and Social Media Addictions

In the new age of technology, individuals are constantly bombarded with new apps, new products, and new updates on the lives of many around them. Smartphones are one common way individuals stay connected to the world around them. A consequence of smartphone use can be a compulsion to check for social medial updates every hour or so, compete for likes and validation from other “friends” on social media platforms, and a risk of creating attachments through technology. Recent studies have found that quitting technology and social media addictions may be harder than quitting cigarettes.

Is it possible to get addicted to technology and smartphones? Research suggests internet users spend 135 minutes each day on social media. Deciding to go on a social media break or resist the temptation to use computers in exchange for real human interaction can be tough. We are confronted with the automated machinery of technology when seeking customer service on the phone. Clever marketing and catchy television ads cater to the rapid growth of technological expansion, encouraging buying the latest gadget. Companies have crated apps to take the place of our face-to-face banking and shopping, making it so convenient to use technology for everyday activities.

Risks of Social Media and Technology

Despite the advanced technology, individuals sacrifice privacy in exchange for technology accessibility and social media connection. As of late, security breaches for websites and credit cards have threatened many. A study conducted by the University of Texas studied the impact of online security breaches, citing emotional distress being the most common symptom. To be exact, 80% of victims of online security breaches endured emotional distress. This can create anxiety or depression, which can lead to other compulsions.

Validation and Dopamine Through Social Media Approval

Similar to risks of online shopping, individuals who frequent social media apps like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram may cultivate attachments or influence behavior. Individuals who post pictures or comments and receive “likes” which translate to technological social approval and instant gratification and validation. When someone feeling insecure fishes for compliments, they are instantly transported to a more secure space via likes and social media attention. Individuals are able to brag about accomplishments and feed their egos, which temporarily boost their self-esteem or self-image.

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When people receive a like or a new notification, the brain can release dopamine—which is the same chemical people feel when falling in love. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain which releases throughout the body after doing something pleasurable. Harvard studies revealed the evidence in the connection between the social reward of a like and the presence of an activated dopamine pathway in the brain. Because of this, people can become addicted to social media, deepening behavioral addictions through smartphone use. If they decide to stop may experience withdrawal-like symptoms.

Once someone gets used to or expects to receive this type of attention, they can become dependent on it. This element can make it especially difficult to end or temporarily stop technology and social media use. Some individuals can go as far as faking commentary, or exaggerating stories to get a desired response. The ability to manipulate and seek attention through social media through any costs reveals the attachment and impact this can have on one’s mental wellbeing. Take this away, and there are sure to be consequences.

Tapering Technology: Resistance And Risks

Tapering tech use may be difficult for many, as social media, technology, and smartphone use has become part of everyday life. A USA Today survey noted 60% of smartphone owners found it difficult to not use their phones for 1 day, and 79% found it difficult to not use their smartphones for a month.

Gradually tapering social media use and using moderation with technology can help control addictions, without the deprivation of dopamine. Additionally, 47% attempted to reduce phone use, while 82% had moderate success in doing so. Another 39% of participants empowered themselves to stop using smartphones with moderate success, and lastly, 2% had a full-on digital detox.

With the advancement for technology and the accessibility it provides users, information such as surveys and tests can reveal the impact technology has on daily life. It should also make others aware of the dependence individuals can develop to fill emotional voids. Whether one uses technology and smartphones for connection or attention, it poses risks and is not easy to discontinue.

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