What is Digital Addiction?

Digital addiction can be crippling, and given the ubiquity of technology in our lives, it can be hard to avoid. So what is digital addition and how does it impact us as adults? As with many addictions, there is a fine line to toe between being digitally addicted, or being digitally dependent. Furthermore, there are many subsets of digital addiction which can mean different things. People can suffer from social media addiction, internet addiction, video game addiction, smartphone addiction, and various other types of digital addictions. Digital addictions can impact relationships, derail careers, negatively impact mental health, become financially unsustainable, and more.

How does digital addiction work?

Similar to a more traditional type of addiction or disorder, digital addictions are fueled by chemicals, most importantly dopamine, in the brain as well as some sort of external stimuli and our brain’s response to the stimuli. For a digital addict, achieving views or likes on social media, getting rewards or points in a game, or any other type of digital reward can flood the brain with dopamine. This creates a dependence via a stimulus-reward feedback loop – more rewards equal more of the “feel-good” chemical dopamine – similar to when a drug addict uses narcotics, an alcoholic takes a drink, or a gambling addict gets a thrill from a winning bet. Unlike a drug addict, an alcoholic, or a gambling addict, it can be nearly impossible to escape the digital world – we are expected to use smartphones for work, we interact with stores and other people through apps, video chat, and text messaging – it seems like everything has a digital component.

What can we do?

So what can we do to help curb our digital addiction in a decidedly digital world? Unlike substance abuse, it may not be possible to treat digital technology like alcohol or a drug and simply avoid it or remove it from our lives. But with proper treatment with qualified mental health counselors and behavioral health specialists, those who are suffering from digital addiction can learn proper impulse control techniques, learn when it is necessary to take a digital detox, remove technology from parts of their lives where it isn’t necessary, and more.

By speaking with our qualified mental health professionals and behavioral specialists at the Granato Group, we can help you put together, and execute, a plan for addressing digital addiction in your life.