The definition of an addiction is a persistent, compulsive use of a substance known by the use to be harmful. Instead of addiction to drugs, sex, gambling, or alcohol, in digital addiction the harm-causing substance is electronics and digital media.
Using digital media is different from the actual addiction, though. It is, therefore, important to know how to engage with technology in a safe and healthy way.
Like other addictions, digital addiction can be just as harmful to the person and his/her family. We are constantly surrounded by a digital world. It has tremendously helped humankind and has made our life a lot easier. For example, communicating with the family while you are away, interacting with colleagues for work in real time irrespective of your geographical location, collaborating with teems across the continents and so on. These are some of the examples where we find digital world has contributed as a building block to our modern society.
Just like many other addiction digital addiction was not initially thought to be problematic until recently. It is quite similar to other addictions such as smoking is integral part of several cultures. Children and many families grew and understood smoking was a part of social norms. But now we know that smoking is a serious hazard not only to people who smoke but also to their loved ones around them.
Similarly, just recently researchers have begun to grasp the adverse effect of excessive use of screen, electronic media, video games etc. This is a new type of addiction that medical community is not accustomed to. Asian countries such as China and South Korea have taken the lead in diagnosing and treating digital addiction.
Typically individuals who have digital addiction day want to use it more and more to get the same enjoyment. In other words they progressively developed tolerance. If they do not have access to the digital resources then they have withdrawal effect. Digital resources could be anything electronics such as TV, phone, video games or even a smart watch. The withdrawal effect may be manifested as irritability, inability to sleep, anxious thoughts, racing heartbeat and even symptoms of depression.
If you think you or your loved one has digital addiction please talk to one of the mental health professional. He could also check screening tool for digital addiction here. You may also like to read my blog video game addiction.