The term digital dependency is becoming increasingly driven and powered by technology as people use it almost everywhere in both personal and professional lives. Advances in electronics have increased efficiency, connectivity, and information access; however, technology can take its toll when used improperly or without thought. Here are three ways to recognize a digital addiction and measures to address them.
1. You’re an internet addict
There are now many ways to access the web. Portable devices like laptops and tablets and iPads all come with built-in Wi-Fi connections so people can browse the internet, check email, watch TV programs and movies, and speak to loved ones via Skype or Facebook from almost anywhere in the world. Sure, this means staying connected is easier than ever, but if someone finds they only speak to people via the internet and not in real life, it’s a definite sign they’ve forgotten how to interact or don’t place enough value on face-to-face conversations.
How to beat it
Try to meet up with friends and colleagues in person. Invite someone to coffee or catch up after work with drinks or dinner. These are important interactions and can go a long way in building and strengthening relationships. It’s perfectly acceptable to watch TV and movies but make a date and watch a film at the movie theater with a partner or someone you haven’t seen in a while—getting out of the house is just as important as taking a break from the internet and doing both can have positive outcomes.
2. Digital dependency is impacting your friendships
In today’s world, cells phones are ubiquitous at social events—many people place them in the middle of tables at restaurants or within easy grasp in pockets and bags. Constantly checking a phone when people are trying to have conversations is commonplace, but this doesn’t make it an acceptable behavior. If someone is speaking, they expect others to listen to them. However, if responding to messages or calls takes precedence over paying attention to the person talking, they may feel disrespected and they may lose trust. This can lead to hurt feelings and damaged relationships.
How to beat it
Be present. When out at events where people are having conversations, give them the attention they deserve. You can always check messages and emails after the engagement. If it’s important to return a call or reply to a text right away, excuse yourself from any conversations and take the phone into another room or outside.
3. You suffer from digital amnesia
Digital amnesia refers to the inability to recall facts without the need to refer to the internet to prompt memory. People have become so reliant on being able to research questions using Google that they often do so without searching their own minds or calling on relevant experiences to assist in problem-solving.
How to beat it
Have a conversation with someone to jog a memory or to discuss a theory or question. This action has positive outcomes that are twofold:
- People can further develop relationships when they share and exchange knowledge
- Resistance to online research for simple queries can reduce reliance on technology and improve memory
It’s important to recognize when technology use gets out of hand, as it can have many detrimental impacts on personal lives. Remember that digital dependency can become a problem, so exercise restraint and awareness when it occurs.