The World Health Organization officially recognized Internet gaming as an addiction last summer. Psychologists and mental health professionals have started to take Internet and tech addiction more seriously as it impacts individuals and communities.
Research shows Americans spend most of their waking and working hours with screens. A study conducted by the nonprofit Common Sense Media shows that teens in the U.S. spend an average of nine hours a day with screens.Tweens spend six hours a day and even ages zero to 8 spend 2 1/2 hours daily in front of a screen.
The numbers are even higher for adults with the average adult in the U.S. spending more than 11 hours in front of a screen.
There is both a correlational and documented relationship between tech use and mental-health conditions. The University of Pittsburgh found increased rates of depression and anxiety in young adults who use several social media platforms per day versus those who only use two. The multitasking involved in technology use is known to lead to poor cognitive and mental health issues.
Technology has changed our lives for the better, but has also caused damage to our psyches. Technology addiction causes shorted attention spans, anxiety, depression, insomnia, decreased quality of vision, sedentary lifestyle, and infections.
Common Sense also released another poll that found 50 percent of adolescents feel their technology use borders on addictive. 27 percent of parents reported the same.
While this phenomena is obviously new, mental health professionals are still learning about how to treat technology and Internet addiction safe and effectively. Mental health professionals face the challenge of understanding the unique ways people interact with technology and how to create non-shaming environments where people can find out more about who technology impacts their lives.