Is the Rise of Technology Causing an Increase in Anxiety

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Technology is forever evolving and expanding all around us. In some ways, the rise of technology has made our lives simpler. It can be stressful waiting days to receive an important message. Snail mail (mail delivered through the postal service) can take days or even weeks to reach your mailbox. Today, we expect to receive the latest news seemingly within the speed of light in an email, text message, or popup within seconds.

But, the instant gratification of having something at our fingertips can be both helpful and harmful. Technology such as smartphones has made some aspects of professionals’ lives easier. The devices allow professionals to carry out tasks more efficiently due to capabilities such as email, text messaging, and productivity apps.

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The high of instant gratification is possibly as old as humankind. Rehab for Xanax addiction and other addictions can help, but the problem of addiction is old. Addiction is nothing new because addiction is biological and psychological.

Could the sound of a notification bell stir up a moment of excitement for some smartphone users and mark the beginnings of an addiction? If people eagerly anticipate a message, the mere action of the notification bell ringing might seem to give people a mental and physical high.

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The instant gratification might contribute to the rise and adoption of different forms of technology. Smartphone users’ dopamine levels go into overdrive after the repeated abuse of smartphone activities. This resembles how dopamine levels in the brain rise when people are addicted to powerful drugs. Dopamine is a natural chemical in the brain. It is stimulated when we use substances or participate in activities we find enjoyable.

The chemical rewards us with feel-good chemicals that encourage us to repeat the behavior again.

Many teens and adults have addiction-like attachments to their smartphones. Published in 2018, one study of 1,824 South Korean middle school students (thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-olds) found that “563 (30.9%) were identified as a risk group for smartphone addiction and 1,261 (69.1%) were classified as a normal user group.”

Similarly, a 2016 study by Common Sense Media reported that “50 percent of teens ‘feel addicted’ to mobile devices, and 59 percent of their parents agree that their kids are addicted.”

In still another study, Pew Research discovered that more than half of the young adults surveyed would find it hard to give up their social media activities. Many social media networks and entertainment sites are easily accessible via smartphone. Handheld technology provides immediate gratification. It is easy to access and have on hand at any moment.

Using a smartphone may seem like an innocent habit. But, using it constantly is more than just a habit. It can be a bad habit. It can create some dangerous results.

Driving and texting is obviously one dangerous use of technology. Smartphone use while driving has been the cause of many road accidents, injuries, and deaths. Many localities have passed laws prohibiting the use of smartphones or participating in other potentially distracting behavior while driving.

There are other, less expected side effects of smartphone abuse. Psychologists have discovered that anxiety is one such side effect of the technology. Writing in Anxiety.org, Dr. Samuel Hunley notes that “researchers [have] found that smartphone use was in fact associated with symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as the increased experience of stress.” Researchers are still unclear how smartphone addiction relates to anxiety.

Smartphone Abuse

People often use benzodiazepine medications such as Xanax to treat their anxiety. Unfortunately, though, people can become dependent on and addicted to such medications and require rehab for Xanax addiction. During such treatment, professionals work with people to address their substance abuse. Similarly, professionals can help people address other behaviors, such as dependencies and anxieties relating to smartphones.

If you are struggling with anxiety and smartphone dependency, you might want to consider using these tips:

1. Don’t try to go cold turkey (stopping all smartphone use immediately). Gradually pull yourself away from constant contact with your smartphone. When you do use your phone, track your smartphone usage using a time tracking app. If you find yourself using your smartphone for ten hours per day, try using it for seven hours, then five hours.

2. Limit your distractions. Many times, we turn to our smartphone out of boredom. Take the time to discover what really interests you. You might spend your time doing something you find more valuable to you.

3. Examine whether you’re procrastinating. Are you putting off that really important report that’s due tomorrow to play a game on your electronic device or to follow your favorite celebrities on social media? Procrastination is a common issue a lot of people have. Some psychologists suggest that procrastination is built on fear and perfectionism.

Remember that right now is the right time to start. Avoid turning to your smartphone to avoid the avoidable. Smartphone use doesn’t have to become smartphone abuse.

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