Over the last ten years cell phones, other technological devices and the Internet have become a big part of the world. It is not uncommon to see people walking down the street with their phones or tablets, lost in the world of technology. Now that the Internet is easily accessible it makes it even more engaging to purchase the means to that accessibility, that brand new smartphone (device) on the market. However, an addiction to technology is widely reported and evident as we see more and more gamers, social media followers, online shoppers and internet users. This addiction can cause a lot of psychological dependencies and abnormalities.
A study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh by Dr. Kimberly Young and Robert Rodgers showed that “dependents ranked high in terms of self- reliance, emotional sensitivity and reactivity, vigilance, low self-disclosure, and non-conformist characteristics. This analysis discusses how such traits may act as triggers of addiction in order to fulfill an unmet psychological need through on-line stimulation.” One of the biggest things that have come from this study is that the need to be apart of the technological world is the same as an addiction to gambling, and just as harmful to the brain. The use of technology and the need to stay with it can come from the need to feel involved with the community and to assert one’s existence.
The Internet is the biggest form of digital use in the U.S. While fewer than 60 percent of senior citizens use the Internet, 92 percent of teens and 97 percent of young adults use the Internet avidly. While teenagers and young adults under the age 30 use the Internet to find information, socialize, play, shop and perhaps conduct business, older users visit government websites or seek financial information online. According to Pew Research, all age groups that are online are using activities like emails and search engines.
Reportedly, one of the most common misconceptions is that the younger generations (millennials) have a higher addiction than the generation before them. In a study done by Pew, older adults play online games and gaming consoles more than the younger generations. Pew reported, “Seniors, in particular, tend to play games more frequently, 36 percent of gamers age 65 say they play games everyday or almost everyday, compared with 19 percent of adults age 50-64, 20 percent of adults age 30-49 and 20 percent of adults age 18-29.”
However, those who were raised during the era of the onset of technology are more successful in their companies because of the knowledge and use of technology. According to a survey by PayScale, the average age of employees at successful companies in the technology industry were well below 35. This find was surprising because those who were a part of the IT revolution are now in their forties, but this may be due to the fact that technology and its platforms are continually changing.
But the use of technology is also changing our minds and the way we think. Technology has changed the way we think, our memories, attention, retention and focus. Professor Michael Saling, Neuropsychologist from the University of Melbourne, reported “The truth is the expansion of the information age has happened so fast, it’s bringing us face to face with our brains’ limitations. Just because our computer devices have perfect memories we think we should too.”
We’ve lost sight of the fact that forgetfulness is a normal and necessary phenomenon. We must keep pushing information out so it can deal with information coming in and if it gets overloaded we become forgetful.”
His words speak truth, there was a study done that included brain scans and the study showed that frequent Internet users showed twice as much activity in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is used for short-term memory and decision-making, of the brain compared to people who use it less.
The use of the technology is one of the biggest assets regarding global accessibility, but with overuse of it, our brains and health can become affected. It is important to take a break from technology once in a while and allow ourselves to relax our brains.
There is also a safety issue connected to overuse of technology via devices. Less and less attention and focus is apparent as users handle their devices when operating an automobile, crossing a street or walking down the sidewalk.
As the world becomes better connected via the best technology, that same technology can also creative a whole slew of new problems.