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FEATURED REPORT

Technology Addiction

- April 20, 2018
Is obsessive computer use a mental health disorder?
Featured Report

Some addiction specialists contend that the overuse of video games, social media or other online technology can affect the brain in the same way drug or alcohol dependency does. But other experts question whether an obsessive use of technology meets the clinical definition of addiction. They argue that overuse of technology typically stems from an underlying condition, such as anxiety, depression or attention deficit disorder. Some industry insiders say technology companies such as Facebook design their products to be addictive, which company executives deny. Child advocates and some politicians want the government to do more to address the potential harm of technology overuse, and countries such as South Korea and China have established government-sponsored treatment centers for teens and young adults considered tech-addicted. The American Psychiatric Association has not linked technology overuse with standard medical definitions of addiction but says internet gaming needs further study. The National Institutes of Health, meanwhile, is funding a study on whether online gaming is addictive.

Gaming Addiction

The American Psychiatric Association has not labeled obsessive gaming as an addiction.

Reducing Tech Overuse

Advocacy groups are urging tech companies and the government to protect children from technology’s negative effects.

 
1920s–1950sAs new technologies are introduced, concerns emerge about overuse and addiction.
1970s–1980sPersonal computers and mobile phones are invented.
1990s–2000sComputer ownership soars and social media companies form.
2010–PresentSocial media use soars; some consumer groups and tech insiders begin to push back against tech companies.
   

Is ‘technology addiction’ a valid diagnosis?

Pro

Robert H. Lustig M.D., M.S.L.
Emeritus Professor, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, University of California, San Francisco.

Con

Christopher Ferguson
Professor of Psychology, Stetson University.

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