Are We Addicted to Technology?

Xander Riley

A lot of people joke about being addicted to technology. I have friends here at Kennedy that say that all the time. But what a lot of people don’t know is that being addicted to your cell phone is actually a very real possibility.

Now, I don’t want anyone to take this article the wrong way. This isn’t me harping on technology or preaching the computer apocalypse. I recognize the great advantages afforded by modern technology. And I also don’t necessarily think that every single one of those people texting under their desks when they think the teacher can’t see them is addicted. But I do think people need to be more aware of all the facts.

An example of one of those facts is that in a study conducted in 2011 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it was found that about 22.5 million Americans-that’s equal to about 8.7% of the population of the U.S.-were addicted to some kind of drug.

8.7 % is a pretty big chunk of the population, right? Do you want to hear a much bigger one? How about 66%? That was the amount of Americans that a 2012 study showed were unable to put away their cell phones for more than a few minutes at a time.

As if that isn’t enough, another statistic shows that 38% of Americans are addicted to the internet. This can include being addicted to watching videos, online games, or social networks, among other things.

That may seem like no big deal to some. But it actually is a serious problem. If people need to be constantly on their cell phones or on the internet in order to be free from feelings of panic, then that makes those things addictions. And addictions can wreak havoc on a person’s life.

One example of this happening to a person was a man named Ryan Van Cleave, an accomplished writer and professor. He nearly committed suicide because he had become dependent on online gaming. In fact, he was so dependent on them that he was playing 80+ hours a week. This addiction cost him his job and his family.

Technology addiction is gaining more and more recognition. The Mourningside Recovery Center in California recently opened up the first rehab center for people struggling with nomophobia, the fear of going without a cell phone. Also, the Bradford Regional Medical Center in Pennsylvania has opened up the nation’s first treatment center for internet addiction.

So, what can we do about it? I’m not going to suggest that we stop using our phones or going on the internet. We all know that’s not going to happen, nor do I think it should. But we do need to be more aware of the possibilities. When CNN talked to Ryan Van Cleave, he said the biggest problem is that most people laugh when you say you’re a technology addict. So next time you hear someone make that joke at Kennedy (and we all know there will be a next time), instead of just laughing about it, think about it for a minute. Make sure that you aren’t a technology addict.