For a few decades now, new technologies have been part of our lives and have brought about important changes in the way we relate to our environment and to others. Due to technological advances, social networks and the presence of the internet we spend many hours connected to technological devices, be it our computer or our mobile phone.

Such has been the impact that some people may feel lost in this world dependent on new technologies if they do not have access to these gadgets. Experts say that if new technologies are not used properly, phenomena such as internet addiction, nomophobia or FOMO syndrome can appear.

What is techno-addiction

Techno-addiction is the uncontrollable desire to be connected to ICTs at all times, and a behaviour that can cause discomfort and deterioration in an individual’s life. It is a relatively new phenomenon, often described as the inability to control the use of various types of technology, in particular the internet, smartphones, tablets and social networks, such as: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This phenomenon has become more acute with the proliferation of the use of smartphones, as access to the internet and social networks can now be made from almost anywhere and at any time. Many of us spend almost the whole day connected to technological devices, from the time we wake up until we go to bed. The use of technology by itself is not bad, but if used inappropriately it can cause serious problems for a person’s well-being.

A large part of the problem lies in the education of individuals, which, being such a current phenomenon, even parents themselves are the first to be affected by this problem and are unable to properly educate their children in this regard.

Is it a disorder?

Some experts have called this problem a disorder because of its negative consequences and the impact it can have on a person’s life. Techno-addiction is not a disorder recognized by the DSM, but it is one that has attracted a lot of interest among health professionals since the 1990s .

In 1995, Kimberly Young, an American psychologist, created the Center for Internet Addiction and the first treatment plan for technology addiction based on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. That same year, the term “Internet addiction disorder” was coined by psychiatrist Dr. Ivan Goldberg.

However, the concept of techno-addiction encompasses different phenomena, most notably nomophobia and FOMO syndrome.

What the research says

Scientific studies show that, in the case of Internet addiction, in the United States and Europe 8.2% of the population suffers from Internet addiction . In 2006, researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a telephone survey that found that one in eight Americans feels addicted to new technology.

Technology addiction is recognized as a widespread health problem in other countries, such as Australia, China, Japan, India, Italy, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, which have established dedicated clinics to address this growing problem.

Like other types of addiction, addiction to technology can vary from moderate to severe, and some researchers claim that the dependence is psychological rather than physical. However, being without Internet access or the ability to use a smartphone can cause serious problems such as anxiety or discomfort. Dependence on new technology is so great today that people with techno-addiction feel lost in the physical world. New technologies affect our daily lives, interpersonal relationships, academic or work performance…

Common symptoms

Techno-addiction is a heterogeneous phenomenon that includes both addiction to technological devices and the need to be in contact with the virtual world; however, both are related. In general, techno-addiction manifests itself as follows :

  • Compulsive checking of text messages and chats
  • Frequent change of Facebook status and excess selfies to upload
  • Anxiety and stress when losing access to the Internet or technological devices
  • Social isolation
  • Need to buy the latest technology on the market, even if it is not necessary
  • Loss of interest in activities not involving a computer, phone, or other technology gadget
  • Feelings of unease when they can’t go online
  • Sometimes people can develop sleep disorders and depression

The problem is not the technology, but its misuse

The appearance of this phenomenon is not caused by the use of technology itself, because like any addiction, its origin can be in the person’s lack of social skills or low self-esteem. The new technologies bring us multiple benefits, since they allow us to be connected to any place in the world and to have information available almost instantly.

Psychologist Jonathan Garcia-Allen suggests that education is key to preventing this phenomenon, as he explains that “the main problem is not the new technologies, but the pathological use of them, which can materialize both in addiction and in uses that can generate psychological problems”.

In this sense, the answer to this problem is not to prohibit the use of the Internet or to remove smartphones from the lives of children and adolescents, but rather to make them understand that their misuse has harmful consequences for their emotional health. It is the task of all educators and parents to educate them from an early age in order to avoid the improper and pathological use of new technologies.

Nomaphobia and FOMO syndrome

Two phenomena associated with new technologies that have had the greatest media impact in recent times are fomo syndrome and nomophobia. The first is related to the formation of identity and the impact that social networks have when it comes to relating to others. L nomophobia is the addiction to smartphones .

You can delve into both phenomena in our articles:

  • “FOMO syndrome: feeling that others’ lives are more interesting”
  • “Nomaphobia: the growing addiction to the mobile phone”