Dangers of Being Attached to Our Gadgets
Access to smartphones, computers, and the internet is nearly universal today even in remote areas. It has become nearly socially acceptable similar to having a television or a radio in your home, which is probably why it does not get as much flak as other types of addiction. Just because society recognizes the need for gadgets, it does not mean it can mask its negative effects.
Your attention is split. Instead of focusing on people and things around you, your attention is divided into keeping an online persona to keep your other connections. Most people would argue that they also spend time with people face-to-face, but attention is split when you feel the need to take out your phone during a get-together. And even if you do try to engage in meaningful conversation, it feels as if the meeting is not complete without a snapshot of the moment to prove that you are making that contact.
Connections become fragile and shallow. The primary purpose of improving ways to communicate through gadgets is to connect easily with family and friends. It is now possible to make contact even with strangers from the other side of the planet and expand your circle of friends. However, not all of those relationships bring meaning and emotional engagement. You can be in touch with other people but detached from them at the same time.
Temptation of the variability of rewards. Using gadgets becomes addictive because we get a lot of rewards by using and interacting with the platform. According to Nir Eyal’s hooked model, boredom is usually the trigger for most people to use their gadgets. Because it is so accessible and user-friendly it is easy to post photos, news, comments, and like other posts. The cycle does not end as long as you keep coming back to it and you get rewards from doing so. The brain gets rewired as a result because of the excessive amounts of dopamine released every time you are rewarded.
You constantly yearn for more content. Even if you are not the type to post comments on social media, it feeds on the need for more information. While this is a good thing for media and other news outlets, social media has the power to sway people’s opinions on even the most sensitive topics. Negative topics also tend to get the most spotlight because they go viral easily. Organizations can then use social media to amplify harmful ideologies by fueling people’s curiosity.
It becomes more than just a hobby. A hobby should be for fun, but when a person is fully dependent on it, it could be an addiction. The most alarming information comes from the rise of numbers among kids who are dependent on gadgets for their pastime. This is further compounded by encouragement from the parents who use smartphones and tablets to babysit or distract the child when they are busy.
You might get digital dementia. The term was coined by neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer to describe the feeling of fatigue, burnout and inability to concentrate among teenagers who are addicted to gadgets. Cognitive decline is a sign of addiction, and gadgets are just as powerful as addictive substances.