How To Stop Tech Addiction

How To Stop Tech Addiction

#11 | I read the other day that chronic social media use is as bad as drug addiction and I remember thinking, “Is that true?” Well, I did a little bit of research and the answer is yes, a very disturbing yes. I discuss how bad the tech addiction epidemic is and share an unlikely method for stopping tech addiction in our time.  The source of the improbable cure? Cocaine. Tune in for more details. This will be controversial, to say the least.  | Click here for information on protecting your privacy on Facebook.  And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.


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Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

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PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

I stumbled across a very interesting article from the Miami Herald the other day and it got me thinking. Well, let me share a quote from the article, before I start…

We like to say we’re addicted to our phones or an app or some new show on a streaming video service. But for some people, tech gets in the way of daily functioning and self-care. We’re talking flunk-your-classes, can’t-find-a-job, live-in-a-dark-hole kinds of problems, with depression, anxiety and sometimes suicidal thoughts part of the mix.

Suburban Seattle, a major tech center, has become a hub for help for so-called “tech addicts,” with residential rehab, psychologists who specialize in such treatment and 12-step meetings.

“The drugs of old are now repackaged. We have a new foe,” Cosette Rae says of the barrage of tech. A former developer in the tech world, she heads a Seattle area rehab center called reSTART Life, one of the few residential programs in the nation specializing in tech addiction.

Tech addiction is real! I’m going to talk about that and an unlikely solution found from an experiment with cocaine. Stay tuned!

Tech addiction is real, very real and I am concerned that it will get worse; especially when I consider the research. Let me share with you a few random stats related to technology addiction.

Research from a site called “The Daily Infographic” says:

    • The average person checks their cellphone 110 times a day. (Hah! You checked it just then, didn’t you?)
    • 75% of drivers have admitted to texting, at least once, while driving.
    • 61% sleep with their cellphone under the pillow, turned on or, next to their bed.
    • 50% of people feel uneasy if they leave their cellphone at home
    • 44% check job related email when on vacation.
    • 26% of all car accidents are caused by phone usage
    • 20% of people between 18-34 have used smartphones during sex
    • 12% of adults use their phones in the shower

But all of that is cellphone related. What about video games?

A study appearing in the medical journal Pediatrics, conducted by research scientist Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., examined video game usage rates of 3,034 children and teenagers. Video game addiction statistics from this study revealed the following:

  • The average length of time spent playing video games was 20 hours per week
  • An estimated 72 percent of American households play video games
  • An estimated nine percent of the 3,034 participants in the study showed signs of video game addiction
  • Four percent of study participants were categorized as extreme users who played video games 50 hours per week on average

And here are a few more observations on video game addiction that I found from various sources online.

  • The same regions of the brain that are activated when craving occurs in alcohol and drug addicts are also activated in video game addicts when they see images of computer games.
  • People who have higher levels of trait anxiety, aggressive behavior, and neuroticism are at a higher risk for video game addiction.
  • Students addicted to video games have lower academic grades than their non-addicted peers.
  • Forty-one percent of people who play online video games admitted that they played computer games as an escape from the real world.

As alarming as these stats and insights are, I am simultaneously encouraged and discouraged when I learned of a possible cure for addictions in general and possibly, tech addictions, specifically. The source of the research is Cocaine.org.

Canadian psychologist Bruce K. Alexander and his colleagues at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada wanted to test the impact of environmental factors associated with addiction. So, they built an elaborate rat cage. Inside this rat cage, rats were given the ability to socialize with other male and female rats, toys to keep the rats amused, rat condominiums that featured multiple levels for sleeping, and tunnels so the rats had somewhere to play and hide. They also made cocaine available to them via a lever that they could easily access when desired. Bruce Alexander and his colleagues nicknamed it “Rat Park.” Alexander and company then compared the behavior of the Rat Park Rats with rats who were given the same access to cocaine but without all the luxuries that Rat Park had.

The end result? The Rat Park Rats rarely pursued the cocaine; even after they were exposed to it. Conversely, the rats who were kept isolated in cages that did not contain amusements nor other rats to fellowship with, were much more likely to become addicted to the drugs offered.

These experiments continued with scientists using different variations of rugs, different types of rats, and different environments. The conclusion was the same. When the fundamental needs of a rat were met, addiction to drugs was unlikely. The scientific community was highly skeptical of these results initially but, eventually accepted them when other studies produced similar results. And just in case you’re curious as to when this all happened, the Rat Park experiments were conducted in the late 1970’s and published between 1978 and 1981.

I am encouraged by this research because if meeting the fundamental needs of a rat can lessen the chance of their drug addiction, maybe the same can be said for humans. And if so, what are the fundamental needs of humans? And if they are met, would they cancel out all addictions? I’m not an expert on psychology so, I don’t know for sure. But I can guess that at least one fundamental need that all humans have is the need to feel connected with other people; in other words, friendship. And that’s when I get… discouraged.

I get discouraged because loneliness is an epidemic. Search DuckDuckGo, Bing or Google for the phrase “loneliness epidemic” and you will find out that loneliness is widespread; especially among Americans where some researchers say 3 out of every 4 are affected. And therein is the paradox of tech addiction. Developing real-life friendships and a sense of belonging, will make people less susceptible to tech addiction. However, for tech addicts to receive that help, they would have to move away from technology. Sigh… It is a conundrum. How do we stop tech addiction or at least, stem the tide?

    • Maybe the solution is more tech addict rehab programs like restart Life.
    • Maybe it’s making digital detox retreats mainstream. Have you heard of those? As I understand it, you spend time in nature without your cellphone but, there’s more to it than that. As an example, check out digitaldetox.org.
    • Maybe we can start removing free wifi in restaurants and bars and airports and other public places and encourage people to talk to the person next to them. It could be a big marketing campaign, “Put down the phone, pick up a friend. Be a better human.”
    • Maybe Hollywood and pop stars could make it uncool and/or rude to keep your face buried in a smartphone by removing the act from movies and TV shows and music videos. It’s not unheard of. People used to smoke on TV and movies all the time but now, it never happens. I’m sure that affected the sales of cigarettes as it surely changed the culture of society. I bet it could reduce tech addiction as well.
    • But I’m rambling. If you have any ideas for reducing tech addiction, I’d love to hear it and share it with my audience. So, share your thoughts?

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