Are we addicted to modern gadgets?

Dr Daria Kuss, a senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University has researched the link between technology and addiction for 10 years.

Sales of obselete technology such as vinyl and old mobile phones have skyrocketed as people turn their backs on  technology to live a distraction-free life.

If you have ever had to tell your youngsters they have spent too long on the tablet, or spoken to someone who will not look up from their smartphone, you may feel like we just cannot disconnect from our devices.

Technology addiction is a real phenomenon, and it can have adverse effects on mental health.

People are on average online for 24 hours a week, twice as long as 10 years ago, with one in five of all adults spending as many as 40 hours a week on the web.

Signs of addiction to your phone or the internet includes failed attempts to use the phone less often, and turning to your phone when experiencing unwanted feelings such as anxiety or depression.

Dr Daria Kuss, a senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University has researched the link between technology and addiction for 10 years.

Her current research projects include studies into internet, gaming, social networking and addiction, cyberstalking and the use of gaming and online forums for mental health.

Dr Kuss said: “I think excessive use of social media, gaming and smart phones may lead to symptoms of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety in a small minority of individuals who may be susceptible.

“I must stress this is a small minority, and even if the majority of users are using technology, this doesn’t mean that the majority will be addicted.

“Our brains learn that if we are using social media, we will receive a reward in the form of likes and comments.

“This leads to dopamine being released into our brain’s pleasure centre, and the brain learns the link and maintains this behaviour.

“Children, adolescents and young adults are more susceptible to addiction to technology as this part of their brain is not yet fully developed.

Dr Kuss encourages families to be open with each other, and especially children, about their technology use.

She said: “Rather than monitoring your children’s use, it’s better to have an open conversation and use technology together, so you can understand why your child uses technology.

“This builds a rapport where children can be open about their use and what they do online. “

Signs to look out for:

Getting agitated when your phone is not in sight.

Turning to your phone when experiencing unwanted feelings such as anxiety or depression.

Excessive use characterised by loss of sense of time.

A need to use the phone more and more often in order to achieve the same desired effect

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