Technology has revamped our societies, and the way we live our lives. Before many of us even get out of bed, we reach to our smartphone to check our email and social media accounts. More than ever before, we are constantly distracted by the devices around us.
In many ways, technology improves our quality of life. It allows us to keep in touch with loved ones. It also lets us learn more about the world than we otherwise would. However, when our relationship with Internet technologies get out of hand, a dependency can form.
Dependencies are never a good thing. To form a dependency, you need to rely on a substance to get by day-to-day. It is difficult to provide an all-encompassing dependence definition. But, all dependencies can be described as a state of reliance on someone or something else.
Typically, we develop dependencies to addictive drugs. But we can form dependencies to other addictive things too, such as cell phones, video games, and social networks.
We are held back by our dependencies. They keep us from enjoying life to the fullest, and they prevent us from living autonomous and independent lives. Do you want to find out more about technological dependency? Our experts break it down below.
A functional dependency is a kind of relationship between two parties. It involves a situation in which the status of one party determines the status of another. In other words, functional dependencies are relationships where one object or substance causes us to function, feel, or perform in a certain way.
When many of us start our day without our smartphones, you feel a bit ‘off’. This is because we have grown accustomed to using them from the minute we wake up. When we forget our smartphones at home after we leave for work, most of us get a nervous or anxious feeling in our stomachs. This is because we need these devices to make us feel the way we want to.
As human beings, we naturally have a dependence to food, water, and sleep. Clearly, some dependencies are perfectly fine. But when we develop dependencies to things that we do not need, we can develop unhealthy lifestyles. If you want to be free from needless distractions and bad habits, then it is important that we refrain from non-essential dependencies.
How to Tell If You Have a Tech Dependency
It is not always easy to tell if you have a technology dependency. Dependencies are not things that are formed overnight. Instead, dependencies are developed slowly over many years. This makes technology dependency difficult to identify until it is too late.
Your Preferences Change
If you find that technology causes your daily preferences to change, then this might be a sign of a dependency. For example, if you have always been a social person but would now rather stay in on a Friday night and browse social media instead of going to visit friends. Essentially, if your regular hobbies and interests start to wane there may be a problem at hand.
When Your Online Friends Matter More
If you have ever played an online video game or frequented a chat room, chances are you have made “internet friends”. These are other players or chat room users who you develop a connection to within the game or interface.
Making internet friends is never a bad thing. However, when you start making time for those friends over your real-life loved ones, this can cause major problems later down the road. If you notice that you are starting to prioritize your digital buddies over your long-time friends and family, you might be building a dependency.
You Hide Your Technology Use, or Lie About It
One of the best indicators of a dependency is when the dependent party cannot own up to it. After all, denial is one of the first stages of overcoming an addiction. If you feel like you use the internet, or any technological device, longer than you should be then it is always best to admit to yourself and to others what it is happening.
If you find yourself lying about your technology use to your boss, friends, or family, then you almost certainly have a problem. Before it gets any worse, it must be addressed. Never hide, lie about, or be ashamed of your technology use. Just admit to what you are doing, and seek help from friends, family, or a mental health professional if you feel like the situation calls for it.
Your Peers Complain About It
If multiple people have complained about your problematic use of technology, they may be on to something. Whenever someone speaks up about your technology use, always listen to them. Even if you disagree, they may provide from insight that you were otherwise unaware of. If those who are closest to you detect a problem at hand, they might just be right.
You Do Not Get Enjoyment Out of It
This is a surefire sign of a technology dependency. We all know how it feels to power up a brand-new smartphone or unbox a flashy new laptop. It can be fun to find a new multiplayer video game, or a new social media network to dig into. But if you find that you no longer enjoy the time you spend with these things, but are still drawn to use them, you might have a problem.
For many, gaming and technology use is a frustrating and sometimes infuriating experience. This is a normal response. When this happens, it is healthy to put your device down, or to exit your video game, and move on for a while. If you find that you cannot do this, then you probably have a dependency.
How to Deal With a Technology Dependency
Coping with a dependency—or worse, addiction—is never easy. It can be hard to admit that something or wrong, and that we might be responsible for fixing it. If you make it this far, by admitting you have a problem, you have already down most of the work.
Improve Your “Distraction Diet”
One of the most insidious aspects of the modern internet is that it has generated an attention economy. The majority of the content that we view online is designed to draw in your attention and sustain it. Internet advertisers pay large sums of money to draw you to attractive web pages that display their ads.
To keep your attention hooked, websites and internet games are engineered to keep satisfying your brain’s reward pathways. This way, you keep coming back for more. To prevent this, start browsing with purpose. This means limiting yourself to visiting only those websites that you intend to visit, and not clicking from hyperlink to hyperlink.
An excellent method for reducing your exposure to distractions online is to install a website blocker. Extensions for Google Chrome, such as Cold Turkey, are designed to bar users from accessing websites that they do not want to go to. By using apps and extensions like Cold Turkey, we have had a lot of success in staying focused and present online.
Take Up Mindfulness Habits
Our favorite way to stay present and “in the moment” throughout the day is by practicing some form of daily meditation. We recommend taking up mindfulness meditation to help strengthen your will to be present, live purposefully, and be more aware of your situation. Psychology Today has a great “how-to” article for those who might be interested in learning how to practice mindfulness meditation.
Put Your Phone to Bed
Unless you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you probably do not need to be constantly connected to the world at every minute of the day. For the eight hours that you are supposed to be sleeping, we strongly recommend keeping your phone on “sleep mode” and out of arm’s reach. This means leaving it somewhere on the opposite end of your bedroom, or, better yet, in another room altogether.
Take a Digital Detox
We are huge proponents for “detoxing” from digital stimulation. Many of us struggle to remember a world without Wi-Fi-enabled, 24/7 digital communication. Since human beings have not evolved to live this way, most of us are unequipped to deal with this constant source of noise, light, and distraction.
To help get over your dependency, we encourage our readers to take a short-term break from using digital technologies. Taking the occasional weekend off is a great way to start. If cutting the cord entirely sounds like too much to bear, you can simply tuck your phone away for a while.
Our friends at Sabbath Manifesto have developed a “Cell Phone Sleeping Bag” designed to keep your phone tucked away for extended periods of time. You can order them today to help you resist its temptation. Alternatively, you could go all-in and sign up for the National Day of Unplugging, which is an annual 24-hour holiday from all forms of digital technology.