Latest developments in causes and treatments



Can You Get Addicted to Tech?

The short answer is, “Yes.” Technology addiction is a relatively new term that covers a wide variety of problems users experience with technological devices. According to a recent survey of the scientific literature on technology addiction, it can be defined as “excessive and inappropriate use of information and communication technologies.”

Most people in the world use technology every single day, in the form of transportation, computers, smartphones, scanners, televisions, radios, music players, and myriad other devices that incorporate technology at work and at home. So what is it that drives some people to use technology until it hurts? According to the survey results,

Personality traits and relations with the environment are among the main causes of technology addiction. Sensation seeking, neuroticism, dysfunctional impulsivity, poor relations with others, narcissistic personality traits, relationship needs, and emotional intelligence are the most frequently mentioned ones.

The problem uses studied in this survey include “internet addiction, social networking site addiction, mobile e-mail addiction, game addiction, and smartphone addiction.” These are all interactive technologies, where there can be nearly instantaneous and constant interaction with the device.

A survey of 75 subjects who had sought treatment for psychological problems found that problem users were “using information technology to manage their psychological distress, to avoid a stressful situation, and [as a ] way of managing boredom.”

This follows very closely the displacement theory of addiction. The problem use arises from displacing stress to the problem activity, which then grows to become an addiction. When faced with stressful situations, those with technology addiction turn to their devices to avoid thinking about or confronting the source of the stress. However, their excessive use of technology becomes a new problem of its own.

“The focus shifts from generating feelings of pleasure and reward to being an activity they do to avoid feeling anxious, irritable or miserable,” says a 2021 article from Rutgers Today. The University of Sydney Brain and Mind Centre adds that “online activities have unique risks including losing track of time and money, disrupted sleep and eating and interaction with poor mental health.”

Some of the recommended treatments for technology addiction include “reducing the number of devices someone uses in their work or private life [and] controlling or limiting screen usage times per day or week via some programs such as Space.” Another strategy is limiting the use of devices to only one or two places in the home and prohibiting their use elsewhere. The ultimate solution may be for users to learn how to face the sources of stress in their lives and not turn to technology or other crutches to displace it. 

Written by Steve O’Keefe. First published December 15, 2023.


“Causes and consequences of technology addiction: A review of information systems and information technology studies,” International Journal of Social Sciences and Education Research, July 2022.

“Technology Addiction among Treatment Seekers for Psychological Problems: Implication for Screening in Mental Health Setting,” Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, February 2017.

“Are You Addicted to Technology?” Rutgers Today, October 2021.

“Technology addiction,” University of Sydney Brain and Mind Centre, undated.

Image Copyright: dotshock.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *