Addiction? There's an App for that
Monday, April 19th, 2010
The 28-day program is aimed at “screenagers,” 15- to 17-year-olds who spend long periods of time on computers and mobile phones playing games and using social networking sites, and are distressed when deprived of them. The program forces patients to quit technology cold-turkey and evaluates their relationship with it.
It’s not just screenagers who are addicts. In March, Stanford University conducted a study measuring how addictive the iPhone is. Of the 200 iPhone-using students surveyed, 85% use it as a watch, 89% as an alarm clock, 75% fall asleep with their iPhone in bed, and 69% are more likely to forget their wallet than their iPhone. Only 6% said they weren’t addicted to it.
I’m guilty of all of these. Each night, my iPhone dutifully charges next to my bed, and wakes me up in the morning. Last month, I ran to the grocery store to pick up a few things and embarrassingly realized at the register that I forgot to bring my wallet. I remembered my iPhone, however, because it held my grocery list. That’s when I realized I have a problem.
Unfortunately, intervention is necessary for some technology addicts. Not only does addictive behavior peak during the teen years, according to the program's founder Richard Graham, but staring at a screen for long hours can ruin relationships and lead to health problems from lack of activity.
Quitting cold-turkey isn’t the best solution though. What will happen when screenagers exit Young Person Technology Service and are suddenly faced with a computer or phone? They could easily slip back into their old habits, perpetuating a vicious cycle.
Avoiding technology at all costs is impossible. We live in a technology-driven society where it’s necessary to stay connected. Applications on our gadgets make it easier to maintain the connection on the go.
While it’s handy having everything on hand, it’s getting out of control. There are iPhone applications to teach children the alphabet with virtual flashcards, virtually eat cupcakes, and the list goes on. These tasks are easily done by humans—so why should I use my phone? What will be left for us to do if we leave it all to gadgets? Besides, it’s far more satisfying to eat a cupcake than to poke a pixelated version.
We’re no better than Capio Nightingale’s patients. We spend just as many hours on our computers and fancy phones doing work, communicating, mindlessly relaxing, and worry when we can’t. Thanks to technology, we’re all screenagers.
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