What is Digital Intoxication?
The moment has come to speak of the digital intoxication of our day. But what does this mean exactly? It primarily refers to an excessive use of the most common digital tools, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone, to the point of dependency.
A frantic and imbalanced usage of these new media can result in more or less serious consequences, be it on the physical or psychological levels, with symptoms and disorders that mirrror those of classic intoxication.
Testing Our Digital Dependency
Let’s do a brief test to better understand how and how much we are dependent upon digital tools, such as the cell phone for example. Try to respond mentally to these three simple questions.
- Do you feel the need to pick up your phone without a reason during the dead moments of the day?
- Do you keep your smartphone turned on and left on your nightstand when you go to bed?
- Do you bring your phone with you into the bathroom because you are afraid you won’t hear it?
If you responded yes to one or all three of the questions above, don’t worry. You don’t yet suffer from a type of digital intoxication, but you are within average. You only need to slightly cut down using your smartphone, so the usage may become more peaceful and balanced. How? Here’s are some simple ways: disactivate your email or social network notifications, resist the temptation to pick up your phone every 5 minutes, do not use it during meals, turn it off during the night. If you really have an intention to cut back, you can even shut off your cell phone during the weekend and take long walks without it.
If, however, you’ve realized that you prefer to leave home without your wallet, rather than leaving without your smartphone because you can’t get through the day without it, then the dependency is quite serious. In that case, you are affected by a true digital intoxication.
Symptoms of Digital Intoxication
The symptoms of digital intoxication are the direct consequence of an imbalanced behavior in the use of new media, to the point of addiction. What are these symptoms? Here are the most common ones:
At the Physical Level:
- Text claw, which causes inflammation of the tendons and carpal tunnel.
- Torticollis by text. A recent study affirms that 84% of young people in the United Kingdom experience pain in the neck and back, caused from excessive curvature in the lower neck from using their smarphones.
- LCD lights of digital tools left on in the bedroom during the night suppress the production of natural melatonin to 22%.
At the Psycological Level:
- Phantom Vibration Syndrome, which occurs each time that a person mistakenly checks the smartphone believing that it had vibrated.
- A direct, causal relationship exists between the regular use of social networks and our emotional and psychological states. These states caused by excessive use are fear, anxiety, loneliness, jealousy, sadness, and difficulty concentrating. In general, those who frequently use social networks exhibit much higher percentages of negative moods than those who have a normal and controlled usage, according to recent scientific studies.
Digital Intoxication and Sociability
We cannot forget the purely social aspects, such as confrontation, socialization, and festivity. These are certainly diminished if, instead of a healthy person to person chat, we prefer a long-winded chat on WhatsAPP. Besides feeding a constant anxiety because of an expectation to immediately respond to others, an excessive digital use has strong repercussions on our capacity to be convivial in our families, workplaces, and among friends. It basically interferes with our capacity to be in others’ company. This happens above all at the table, where it is already a custom to have your fork in one hand, and your smartphone in the other. And it is primarly at the table, at mealtime, when people give in to the temptation to glance at their screens. To prefer the tablet to the conviviality of the table increases the risks of digital intoxication even more.
Digital Intoxication and Productivity
There are even repercussions in the workplace. A strong consumption of digital products causes a loss of concentration, memory, reasoning, and calculation. Here is some data from other studies:
- The University of California discovered that those with dependency dedicate 11 minutes to accomplishing a task before being distracted by digital activity.
- You would need 120 minutes a day to recover the time wasted on digital distractions during work.
- Students interrupted by digital tools during their study time decreased their exams performance by 20%.
In short, technology is quite useful; it simplies our life and often saves it. But we must not exaggerate it’s use and remain always attentive to not exceed certain limits. Otherwise the risks of digital intoxication make themselves felt and we suffer the consequences.