Technology is an inevitable fact of life. Mobile phones, laptops, tablets, GPS devices, etc. form a central part of our lives, so much so that it’s impossible to imagine a day without at least one of them. Maybe this is the reason that some people call us technology addicts.
But how do we define an addiction? The meaning of addiction is the state of being enslaved to a habit, practice or something else that is psychologically or physically habit-forming. Some people will say that dependence on a gadget is simply a result of their work – bloggers, community managers, writers, journalists, CEOs (you name it). Others will claim that an addiction is what you develop for cigars, alcohol or other drugs – not technology.
Not so sure if you are a tech addict? Keep reading and see if you identify with any of these situations:
1. Oops! I left my phone at home… have to go back to get it.
You are on your way to work, school or just to meet a friend, and suddenly, you realize you left your phone at home. What do you do?
a) Leave it there. I’m already on my way, and I can check my messages later.
b) What the he…? I need to go back home to pick it up! What if someone sends me an e-mail or instant message, or if I miss an important call? I need my phone ASAP.
If your answer was b, you may have nomophobia. Yes, it even has a name! NO MObile PHOBIA. This “condition” of sorts can cause you feel anxious and desperate to have your mobile phone in your hands. Even if you don’t receive messages, you just need to know is in your pocket for your own peace of mind.
It may be difficult, but if you find yourself in such a situation, relax – you probably have your laptop with you, are about to get to a place with computers, or have a friend who will let you send an e-mail or make a call.
Ask yourself specific questions to evaluate your situation. Do I have time enough to go home back? Am I really going to miss something important? Then, you can make a decision based on real facts, not just an impulse or anxiety.
2. I need to tweet… every single thought.
We all know that social networks can be tons of fun, and Twitter can be especially addictive. That said, do we need to publish every single thing we do or think? The answer: NO. Save yourself a little bit of privacy, and think twice before tweeting something like: I’m in the bathroom!
In the end, it’s up to you – we respect freedom of expression. This is just a tip to keep your followers from becoming unfollowers.
3. Where are we going? Do they have Wi-Fi there?
You are planning to go to dinner with your family, friends, boyfriend, wife, etc. What do you do?
a) Ask what kind of food they are in the mood for so you can pick a nice place for everyone.
b) Ask what restaurant has Wi-Fi, regardless of what the food style is.
If you pick b, what’s wrong with you? We all wish every restaurant, mall, city, state, country – and the whole world – were one giant hotspot. The thing is that you should have a great time of the people you’re with, you shouldn’t worry so much about the fact that you won’t be able to connect to the internet – you probably have a data plan, but remember, you are eating, so take your time and enjoy. Some places don’t even have a signal (TRUE STORY).
4. Vacation on the beach, forest, mountains? Sure, but can I bring my laptop?
Beach: sandals, swimsuit, hat … laptop? Wait a minute. On vacation, you should be worried about forgetting sunscreen – not your laptop. It should come as no surprise your family calls you an addict. Vacations are precisely that, vacations, so disconnect from the virtual world for a while. Even if you have an important job, while you’re on holiday, you are supposed to have that time for yourself. Yes, we know some companies or bosses can take a little bit of our time up, even when you’re on vacation. In such cases, try to stay online for just a few parts of the day and work only for real emergencies. Don’t stay in the hotel room or the lobby for eight hours in case your work requires your attention.
5. At a family dinner, your mobile device gets its own seat at the table.
You are in the table … as is your phone. Even when you’re eating, the device is ringing, beeping or vibrating. Even worse, you don’t stop checking your e-mail, sending messages and playing games like Angry Birds or Draw Something. When you are about to sit down to eat, remember to leave your phone in your pocket or even turn it off just for a while. Pay attention to conversations, and interact with family members or friends. It seems like we are losing the ability to verbally and personally communicate every day.
6. I am a hardcore gamer!
Video games can be really fun, but be careful – video games can be extremely addictive. Extreme gamers often report episodes of fatigue, back aches, dehydration, migraines, and some have even died as a result of playing video games when their gaming habits combined with other factors like sedentarism, lack of exercise, insomnia, etc. You should define how many hours you’ll dedicate to play prior to getting started. Moreover, if you begin to avoid outings with friends, stay in the same room for so long that you forget to eat, or find yourself skipping work or school because of a new release, you are in trouble.
If you find yourself in these situations, take action! Set timers, program your computer to turn off, remind yourself you need to stretch, go out and take in some fresh air. If you think you can’t face this by yourself, visit http://www.video-game-addiction.org/, and you’ll find some interesting information as well as a telephone number to call for help.
7. Check e-mails, send IMs, watch YouTube videos or tweet… while driving? NEVER!
Last, but not least, the issue of using mobile devices while driving. This is extremely dangerous. Never, ever try to check e-mails, send IMs or even change a song from playlist on your mobile device while driving. Even if you are stuck in a chaotic traffic jam, you have to pay attention to your environment, be alert for when things speed up, and take note in the event that another driver requires your attention. When you are behind the wheel, you need to be focused the entire time.
How many times have you criticized girls who put on their makeup while driving? well, distract yourself with your gadget is similar, unfortunate things happen while walking and texting, imagine it while driving. There are some apps that will help you to make calls, answer messages, send e-mails or even block your mobile while on the road.
As you can see, all of the above may seem like regular situations in our lives, but we have to keep in mind that we need to interact with others, be careful, enjoy the special moments, take a break from the virtual world and be active participants in the real world. If a friend or family member thinks we have a technology addiction, we may want to hear them out, pay attention and take control.
Our technological powers increase, but the side effects and potential hazards also escalate.