Compared to the times when the first electric programmable computer was introduced in 1943, science and engineering and made a gigantic leap forward in terms of making tech compact, portable, and simple. By the end of 2015, it became commonplace to carry a miniature computer — a smartphone — in a pocket; smartphones and other gadgets became part of everyday life, and few people can imagine living without them. However, there are also disadvantages that people should be aware of along with all the positive aspects of global computerization; one of them is what psychologists call gadget addiction.
Generally speaking, gadget addiction is an obsession with, and abuse of, your cell phone, tablet, or any other electronic device. People who had to abstain for a period of time from using their gadgets (usually for 1 – 3 days) exhibited a variety of anxious behaviors and managed to calm down only when they regained access to their gadgets. In each individual case, symptoms may differ, but the most distinctive of them point directly to gadgets as the source of anxiety.
FOMO, or “the fear of missing out,” is one of the most common signs of developing gadget addiction. People with this syndrome feel they have to stay online constantly to avoid missing something that their friends might share exciting or interesting; the same refers to the fear of missing important news, be it news on television, or a message about the health of the relatives or friends of a person, and so on. In the desire to comment on every little thing happening online, FOMO can also manifest itself — sometimes just to show a person is “there,” participating in their friends ‘ lives. Other common symptoms are the phantom cellphone syndrome, for example. This is quite common even among people with little – to – no addiction to gadgets; in this addiction, users of gadgets tend to feel their phone is vibrating, alerting them to incoming messages or updates. They see, though, that there were no alerts when they check it, it was their imagination. Anxiety if you do not use a phone or urge to respond to all incoming messages and emails immediately after receiving them may also be a symptom of gadget addiction.
Gadget addiction leads to attention disorders; for instance, many people with this problem experience a lack of concentration or a long – term ability to focus on something; they also tend to forget things easier (long – term memory problems) and their ability to make decisions is generally poorer than those without gadget addiction. Physiological problems directly related to prolonged exposure to gadgets include the development of short-sightedness, regular daily headaches, and back and neck aches (constantly leaning over a gadget’s screen). Some researchers also link gadget addiction to fertility issues, supporting their point with overexposure to gadget – emitted electromagnetic fields, but this thesis needs to be reviewed. And this is not to mention stress and anxiety (caused by the aforementioned FOMA and comparing one’s real-life with the virtual life in social media (news feeds), disorders of communication, etc.
What is alarming is that addiction to gadgets has recently begun to develop among young children; If psychologists talked a few years ago about teenage addiction to gadgets, specialists nowadays tend to believe that a child may develop this addiction earlier — starting at the age of 11. According to recent research involving around 2,200 young people, about 65% of children between the ages of 11 and 17 take their gadgets to bed to be able to browse the Internet before sleep or play games. If a child shows a lack of interest in activities he or she used to enjoy before, if a child becomes excessively aggressive or defensive when its use of gadgets is mentioned, or if a child begins to lie about his or her time with the gadget, it may mean that he or she has developed an addiction to some degree.
A new age also means new, psychological diseases. From that point on, gadget addiction will be typical of the 21st century — the age when computers have become portable and compact, when everyone has access to the Web, and when all of the world’s entertainment is at one’s fingertips. However, this addiction does not mean that this is normal; people with gadget addiction show several troubling symptoms, such as fear of missing something important when offline; detachment from close people and favorite gadget activities; headaches, poor vision, social anxiety, etc. In addition, even kids appear to have recently developed gadget addiction, and this is already a warning sign. In order to save children from serious psychological and physical problems, this problem should be investigated more carefully.