The coronavirus has propelled us into a new stage of connectivity and screens are one of the great resources we are counting on in this isolation. These devices allow us to: socialize, telework, spend time with family, watch TV together, play games, enjoy leisure time on social networks such as Instagram or Facebook, as well as keep us informed about current affairs and news.
However, there are factors that favor falling into techno-addictions and that we cross the boundary between what is “healthy” and what is harmful, without often even realizing it. Some of these factors are:
- Boredom: we have a lot of unoccupied time and the quickest or easiest option is to occupy it by looking at the cell phone, television or playing video games.
- Loneliness: we stay connected to our social environment in this confinement and get away from the feeling of loneliness, but we must learn to be with ourselves and dedicate time to ourselves as well.
- Negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness, fear or worry. Technologies can be an escape route, help us to disconnect and stop worrying, but that takes us away from facing our worries and improving our emotional state.
- Poor management of our free time, activities, as well as the management and planning of our days.
How can we know if we are abusing technology?
It is true that we cannot currently evaluate with criteria such an anomalous and extraordinary situation as the one we are living in this confinement. Nevertheless, the danger of developing pathological behavior is real. We can realize if our behavior is becoming a problem or if we are abusing technologies by paying attention to some indicators such as:
- Perceiving that I am isolating myself or seeking to do so in order to use my cell phone or use my computer. Also if I hide to play or start to hide it from those around me.
- Starting to obsess and check chats, conversations, social networks compulsively.
- Not being able to limit or manage my time using technologies and starting to feel that I “can’t live without them” or without spending a lot of time online.
- If the use of devices begins to interfere with my self-care and basic activities of my daily routine, such as: eating, physical care, etc.
- Experiencing restlessness or anxiety when these devices or the internet are not working.
- If my sleep routines are interfered with, causing me to go to bed later and or get up earlier to “plug in”, insomnia or unrefreshing sleep.
- If I begin to experience symptoms such as: anxiety, mood swings, changes in my social relationships, aggression or communication difficulties.
What exactly is technoaddiction?
It would imply dependence and addiction to technological devices (cell phones, TV, social networks, internet, video games), as a consequence of the excessive and uncontrolled use of these devices anywhere and for prolonged periods of time. In the daily life of those who suffer from this problem, technologies would be the center and the axis. The impulse to use them would be installed in the person, causing him/her to be unable to control himself/herself, and even experience “withdrawal” if he/she does not satisfy this need (if he/she does not look at the cell phone or stops playing a game, watching TV, etc.).
All this generates serious psychological and emotional dependency problems, such as anxiety, depression, problems or job abandonment, interpersonal problems or breakups, among many others.
How can we prevent it?
We can make good use of technology and prevent technoaddiction with the following guidelines:
- Maintain organized routines and habits. Plan our daily life so that the use of electronic and digital devices is controlled and limited.
- Schedule “technology-free” times.
- Prioritize as enjoyable activities those that involve creativity, personal relationships with other people, interest in educational hobbies or those that promote learning, such as: reading, playing an instrument, painting, writing, playing board games, etc. That my free time and enjoyable activities are not limited to using my cell phone, watching TV or playing with my computer or tablet.
- Disconnect devices after teleworking.
- Maintain proper sleep hygiene and self-care. Not taking my phone to my room and not looking at it during sleep time until the next day. Eating without using the internet, devices or screens.
- Avoid isolating myself to “connect”. Not using devices when I am with someone I live with, as this will make it easier for me to reduce their use.
- Take breaks and interact with those around me to avoid prolonged use and not be aware of the time I have spent on them.
- Set an example if I have children and I do not want them to have this problem in the near future. They will learn to make proper use if I am a model of it and facilitate a good use of the screens. It will be easier at home if we all do the same and family activities are a priority.