TECHH & SCIENCE NCE

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - WITH CHRIS

WHEN do you last check Face­book?

I bet some­thing ex­tremely im­por­tant has hap­pened on Face­book that you haven’t seen yet.

I bet your friend just posted about burn­ing her toast while her tod­dler threw a tantrum and it’s of­fi­cially the worst day ever.

You’d bet­ter get on Face­book and leave a sym­pa­thetic com­ment cou­pled with some sort of sit­u­a­tion-ap­pro­pri­ate emoji.

Like a sad face, or a hug, or a love heart.

Are you start­ing to get the urge to check Face­book?

If you have, there’s a chance you might be a techno-ad­dict.

Tech­nol­ogy ad­dic­tion, a rel­a­tively new is­sue, isn’t al­ways easy to recog­nise due to the fact that so many of us must be at­tached to our phones or com­put­ers for le­git­i­mate rea­sons such as work or school.

And in Aus­tralia we have a par­tic­u­lar pen­chant for all things tech­nol­ogy, with a whop­ping 13.4 mil­lion peo­ple out of a total pop­u­la­tion of 23 mil­lion spend­ing 18.8 hours on­line ev­ery day.

Even more sur­pris­ing is the fact that Aus­tralia is re­spon­si­ble for 9.8 mil­lion unique vis­its to Face­book each week, which is more than the U.S. and Bri­tain ac­cord­ing to The Cabin, Syd­ney, a spe­cial­ist ad­dic- tion treat­ment cen­tre.

Com­pound­ing the time-sink that is tech­nol­ogy use, the way in­ter­net use re­lates to our psy­cho­log­i­cal makeup means that the on­slaught of in­for­ma­tional snip­pets can be ex­haust­ing for the mind, lead­ing to burnout, anx­i­ety and sleep dis­or­ders.

Of par­tic­u­lar con­cern is the ef­fect over-use of tech­nol­ogy has on teenagers and young adults.

A study by Dr. Mubarak Ali of Flin­ders Univer­sity in Ade­laide on the im­pact that in­ter­net use has had on Aus­tralian teenagers found that one-third of the study par­tic­i­pants were “in the process of be­com­ing psy­cho­log­i­cally ad­dicted,” and teenagers, on av­er­age, spent 13 hours per week on­line.

Driv­ing this ad­dic­tion is what is known as FOM ( A fear of miss­ing out), a condition in which the suf­ferer fears that their peers will have fun with­out them if they don’t keep up with on­line so­cial cir­cles.

Much like other types of de­pen­dance, tech­nol­ogy ad­dic­tion in­volves the neu­ro­chem­i­cal dopamine which is re­lated to re­ward mo­ti­vated be­hav­iour.

And, just like most other ad­dic­tions, the ‘ rush’ of dopamine typ­i­cally re­quires greater lengths of time on the in­ter­net in or­der to achieve the same nice feel­ing un­til it be­comes com­pul­sive, ha­bit­ual be­hav­iour.

Peo­ple who are ad­dicted to the in­ter­net dis­play the same tell- tale signs as those who are ad­dicted to drugs or al­co­hol. These warn­ing signs of ad­dic­tion in­clude: In­creased ir­ri­tabil­ity Sense of iso­la­tion Di­min­ished so­cial in­ter­ac­tion Dis­rup­tion in sleep­ing and eat­ing pat­terns

Dif­fi­culty quit­ting or un­will­ing­ness to change their ad­dic­tive be­hav­iour

If you think you or some­one you know might be suf­fer­ing from tech­nol­ogy ad­dic­tion, you can con­tact Life­line on 13 11 14.

HOOKED: Tech­nol­ogy ad­dic­tion, and in par­tic­u­lar so­cial me­dia ad­dic­tion, is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing an is­sue for younger gen­er­a­tions.

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