Technology and Internet use has become an integral part of our everyday lives and is finding its way into more and more of our daily habits. Most behavioral health and addiction specialists agree that adolescents and young adults are spending close to 6 hours a day on either a computer, Smartphone or tablet. The truth is, it is difficult to be part of society today without a degree of technology use but what do we do when our usage gets out of hand or reaches an addictive level?
Internet technology utilizes user-experience guidelines that make it easy for us to find information, content, or entertainment that we want within seconds. While these practices are helpful from a convenience standpoint, they can have certain, unintended consequences in three ways:
- Each time that your Smartphone, tablet, or computer provides you with particular information, there is a small dose of dopamine that is delivered to the brain. Over time, your brain can become accustomed to these dopamine hits that Internet and technology use provides. Individuals will find themselves feeling bored, uninterested, or unmotivated to do anything that doesn’t involve their screen device. This is a similar set of circumstances with other addictions, such as gambling, food, drugs and alcohol.
- The faster you click on something you like or want online and quicker it shows up on your screen the more potent and powerful that addiction response becomes
- The truth is that the Internet and technology function much like a slot machine where you never know what you are going to get, when you are going to get, and how desirable the content will be for you. That variability makes the Internet experience potentially more addictive in that your rewards (with small elevations of dopamine) are unpredictable and changeable.